Friday, December 19, 2014

Mom to a Five Year Old

I am not sure when this happened-- well last month actually.  But I now have a big ol' five year old.  Sweet baby James is now so much a boy that with the exception of those mile-long eye lashes I barely recognize what was my first baby.

James is five. . .

http://youtu.be/MDMxLd2Ayxw




So here it is-- his birthday video-- less than a month late.  It's nice to confirm that I am not playing favorites.   He's just as late as everyone else is.    New Year's resolution anyone?


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Is that Happiness I Feel?

I wasn't sure where I was going to go with this post-- as I have been in a damn reflective mood lately.  But last night I found the perfect way to frame up what is going in my head.

I struggle with parenting- yell too much, count to three more times than is ever effective, and feel late no matter what I am trying to get done.  Yet,  it's oddly rewarding. And funny.

I have a hard time articulating what it is exactly that makes me love this job- especially when so much of it is just plain fucking hard.  I often feel like a foreigner in someone else's land-- crossing borders that I judged in the past- such as apologizing for the stickiness of the counter or the naked kids getting ready for bath time.  Don't mind Deirdre- that's just poop on her nose. It'll be gone soon... we're taking showers.*

The weird blend of pain and suffering and joy seems to be the normal dichotomy in my life.  As a self-proclaimed moderation-hater, I seem to enjoy life best when it's lived in the extremes.  Extremes of parenting are hard to really explain even to myself.  I seem to jump back and forth between the joy /frustration threshold minute by minute  As I have transitioned from career gal to SAHM to somewhere in-between this identity and confusion has really left me pensive.  Is this the greatest job ever? I've been told so- but man it's hard.

And then this happened--
Go Get Those Horcruxes, Bud.




This is James who thinks I can't see him underneath his cloak of invisibility.

I often spend much of the hours between 7-10 escorting children to bed.  We've been struggling with bed time and some night time phone thieves, milk capers and non-essential pee-ers.  In effort to claim my evening, I decided to take a bath with the door open so they would have to pass the door if they were out of bed.  

Cymbals clang, lightbulbs pop and the thunder clapped-- that's it.  That is frustration, lack of sleep, counting to three, time outs and joy all in one little boy.

I called out to James-- and he continued to creep past the door, careful not to make any noise.  Those floor boards are a death trap.  After he safely made it back to his room with a phone (I presume). I continued to call to him and he popped on over as if nothing had ever happened.  That's right, the blanket WORKS. 

Yep, I think that is happiness.

It's pretty fucking awesome.**



* " "Tonight.  We are big into changing our own diaper lately.  Which works, you know. . . most of the time. Until it REALLY doesn't.
**As I write this post with a baby in my lap- a glass of wine in sight and spaghetti stuck to the wall next me. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Beary Happy Halloween

Halloween anticipation is building over here. . . . we've had many practice runs at wearing the costumes and are only two days away from the big day!   Wahoo!  I love parenting for many reasons but one of my top five (or one) is the fact that I can totally love up the kids traditions again.  It's Halloween man!  Heck yeah!

We had a very Alaskan experience last week.  We spent a good long time researching the perfect pumpkin design and settled on Iron Man.  By "We" I think we all know who drove this decision. 

I searched Pinterest for a design and saw this guy:


Clearly that didn't happen.  Ours resembled more of a traditional jack-o-lantern face with a small mouth.  However if you say "Wow, IRON MAN" emphatically enough, even a four year old can see your artistic interpretation.

Despite the vision, James was not willing to do any heavy lifting.  Note his excellent delegation.



After all that work, we proudly put our pumpkin out.  The next morning when James caught the bus, I noticed it was gone and the little chair it was sitting on was tipped over.  I conferred with Matt- but no, he didn't take our pumpkin to work to show his co-workers.   

Pretty sure a bear visited us and swiped our pumpkin.  I am feeling pretty good about the fact that there was a bear on our front porch. Once again, our kids will never be allowed outside without an adult.  Yikes.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hey There. .. .You Come Here Often?

Well, wouldn't you know.  I have a blog.  

I keep picturing this day-- a day that is dreary and rainy* where I am sitting in a quaint coffee shop staring out the window while sipping on my chai latte all well contemplating my place in this world.   I will then take my journal  with all these lovely handwritten notes on above contemplation and convert them into witty fodder for the blog .**


So that hasn't happened yet.  But I SWEAR TO GOD one of these days it will.  Until then, posting remains light. 

You know what has happened?  Y'all I have four kids.  FOUR!  I am in disbelief myself.   My lovely little world remains lovely but is busy, busy.***  I am almost always behind and although I am no longer a working gal, I have once again started scheduling my life by the 30 minute block.****

So despite the four kids just happening, I am really happy.  Today James helped Deirdre get dressed with the comment "this sure is tricky"- Deirdre helped Simon build a train track and Deirdre realized that her jammies were too small and happily passed them down to Moira.  My babes are growing up and life is sweet. It doesn't take a coffee shop and a chai for me to realize that this little life I have built is pretty fucking awesome.*****
Moira sporting Daisy's jammies

So what's new.  In no particular order:

  1. It rains a lot.  Ketchikan is known for the liquid sunshine.  The rep is well deserved.  Most of the time it's a-ok though and it's rainy season.. . . so perspective.  At least it isn't 50 below.   Vitamin-D gummies all around. 
  2. Computers are scarce.  See above commentary about trying to find work life balance.  I am still consulting and have a few clients but am trying to keep all things in moderation.  Well, most things. . .   I am sorry if I owe you an email. 
  3. I am getting my groove back post baby. I have committed to working out 60 minutes each day.  I am doing really well with it and am starting to feel a connection to my body that I have sorely missed.  I love feeling strong and it's a value of mine.  I am a lousy athlete so we will have to do with a value instead of a skill.  A friend is going to teach me to swim tomorrow night.  I am stoked!
  4. We had a special friend visit us last weekend from CSB/SJU (my alma mater).  Lately I have been thinking about Ketchikan and how often I use the word 'community' to describe it.   As I have grown further away from CSB I have realized that few people drop the C-word as frequently as the Bennies. Lately though, I can't keep that word from my thoughts as CSB-esque community is everywhere.  I am feeling pretty darn fortunate to live in this little place and was thrilled when an admissions peep from CSB/SJU came to visit.  He came for naked lady night******, joined us at Harvest Festival and even helped parent our kids when we were short a hand.  We loved having Tom here and were so thankful to bring two great communities together.
    Tom and Daisy dancing

  5. Moira is one of my greatest joys. I know I am a little cranky about the colic and a little cranky about the lack of sleep but crankihood aside-- have so enjoyed this little one. Love having a baby in my life again.  So sweet.
Nummy duty.
So that's the five minute update.  I would promise to post more but that might be disingenuous.  Instead I'll promise to do my best.

*We are talking Ketchikan after all.
**Nevermind the fact that even I can't read my own handwriting.  Odd, I know. .. however, I often leave out the last few letters of words and I have several letters that look exactly alike.  It's not uncommon for me to write something, walk away, come back and have no fucking clue what I was thinking two minutes earlier.  Actually the NFC happens a lot.   That could be it's own blog post, really.
*** The double busy to stress just how little computer time there is in my life.
****This is humorous because I have a colicky baby.  Look up colic-- yes, it reads MORE than 4 hours of crying a day.  Yes, that is my life.  Sweet baby girl needs a good toot.  There is nothing more devastating to a baby that GI distress.  So sad poor girl.
*****Pardon my french.
******Clothing exchange for the ladies in K-town.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wet

Life is marching on steadily.  One of the things I like best about living in Ketchikan is the way the sun's pattern has an exaggerated affect on our life. The solstice seems a while ago and quickly the days are getting shorter and shorter.  The famous Ketchikan rain is also setting in nicely for the fall.




We first visited Ketchikan a year ago and it rained cats and dogs and this weekend I was brought back to that memory. It just poured and poured.

It reminds me a little of living in MN in the dead of winter--when you realize that you can't get your kids and their five-point harnassses off quickly enough to get from the car to the store or whatever and you just stay home where it's warm and the risk of frost-bite is negligible.

Literally it rained so hard while we were getting ready for church that I realized that we would never make it from the car to the church without being soaked to the bone.  I'm sure God understands.

Our new house is built into the mountain a bit so the view is broader-- it's been fun to see the cloud formations roll in-- I never thought I would enjoy watching it so much but I really do. The other perk to living up a bit is the perspective of the fog-there have been a couple times where we have woken up to living "in" the cloud and have slowly seen it burn off in different areas starting with the house.  It's pretty cool.

And a little claustrophobic.  On Saturday the fog was so dense you couldn't see the edge of the deck.

There were a few breaks in the clouds today and I was shocked at how the funk from the last few days was instantly gone!



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Double Dare Birthday Party

I mentioned that a couple weeks back was my birthday.  I didn't mention that I decided to embrace my middle age by celebrating my childhood.


One quick preface: I love birthdays.  All birthdays.  I think it is such an easy way to celebrate life.  I felt a little self-indulgant as a younger person because of this love of the b-day but as I get older I am more confident in my silliness.  A trait that I really hope to pass along to my kids.

One of our first purchases as a pre-family was a ridiculous foam birthday cake top hat.   We bought it at a time when spending 25 bucks on a purchase that had absolutely no true purpose was a questionable use of valuable resources.  However, for the past six years I have found so much joy in our little hat and have been thankful for the splurge.  My kids look forward to birthdays and the joy of special breakfasts, toasts and yes, my little sponge hat. Net/Net in this house we live by the rules: Life is awesome. Eat Cake.

This wasn't a particularly easy year thus far with many seemingly simple things not being all that easy--too many logistics, some post-partum funk and a little apprehensive about turning 35 (a year I thought marked the official passage into the "finally get your shit together" zone of adulthood).  Given that my general attitude for the last several months has been falling into the range of pensive to angsty, I decided to take a moment for some shameless joy.

How does one bring joy?--- well, you throw a Double Dare birthday party.  I wasn't sure if people would play my reindeer games since this was my first big party since coming to Ketchikan but boy, did the Ketchie's bring it. 



Some of my favorite parts:
  • 80's trivia
  • Costume contest
  • Speed tissue box emptying
  • Tic-Tac dog on a bone
  • Obstacle course with a slime pool (find spider man amongst many other little men"
  • Paper airplane toss
  • Green slime food- including jello shots (a first for me)

It was surprisingly competitive considering the grand prize was a gift certificate for a scoop of ice cream!

Paper Airplanes


Sponge Water Relay

Elephant Heads


I had so much joy prepping for this one-- sometimes a little shameless joy all you need. 


Monday, September 1, 2014

No Bake Quesadillas*

My little birthday was oddly reflective this year-- 35, folks--which seems like a big turning point.  Combine my inward focus with a rainy day, a pre-schooler, two toddlers and an infant and even the most SSRI'd out there would reflect on their life path.  

It was a quiet little day on the island.  I met some friends for coffee then hung out with Mo for most of the day.  I had planned on journaling and setting some life goals but a colicky** baby got in the way of my awesome self actualization.  Oh well.

The kids did surprise me with a little dinner at home.

Moira and I went down stairs to check email (nurse)  and about one minute later I heard a chair moving across the floor above me.  Those of you with kids in the same life stage as mine know that the scraping rattle of a chair being moved is very, very dangerous.

Anywhoo-- I decided not to check it out, but instead call to the four year old*** to tell the two-two year olds to stop it.  He confirmed with an "ok".    So, I think we can all agree that this was a bad idea

Ominous noises continue and  I holler again to James who comes down.  I ask what he is doing and he says they are making me dinner.  Good. I ask him if they made a mess-- and he responds in a series of rapid fire statements:

"No."
"You wait right here, k?"
"I'll be right back,k?"
"You sit right here, while I'll be right back"

Then I hear upstairs a bad stage whisper: "Guys, GUYS. We have to CLEAN UP."    "GGGGUUUUUUYYYYYSSS!!!"

I have a pretty good idea of the bad news that's going on upstairs at this point but decide to give it thirty seconds so that they have at least a fighting chance at reducing the damage. Moira, still attached to me from our feeding/email session head upstairs to see this.

The apple slicer is obviously very helpful for this recipe. What a time saver.

I am saving this one to show her future prom date.

On tonight's menu: No bake quesadillas.  

I put M in her bouncy seat and started to clean up but Moira disagreed about this plan (likely fear of falling cheese) so I sat back down with her, nursed some more and snapped some photos.

Then, I called the babysitter to come a bit early.

Happy birthday to me.

Mo and I went out for a girls date, journaling, self-actualization and a little alcohol.  I'd call that a success.



*Alternate title: "Get the Cheese off the Baby."
**I think we are getting close to calling that formal diagnosis. . . . wow, girly gets UPSET.
***A perfectly responsible proxy parent.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And So it Goes

Friends, it's been a while.   I feel like that is such a classic blogger phrase-- I meant to write, but then life got in the way-- you know four kids blah blah blah.

Well, that's only half true this time.  There were lots of times where I meant to sit down and write but there were plenty more where I felt like a whiny brat and didn't want my vast, vast* readership to feel obliged to put up with my BA.**  But it's better now-- hormones are more in check, life more balanced, sun shining more inside and out, sarcastic state fully returned, and poop is once again funny.

So what happened-- well, a couple things really.

The first and more importantly we are all so incredibly smitten with our newest. 

Today it struck me that never again will we have a teeny tiny baby in our household.  Moira has already passed that fragile infants stage. It was over in an instant.  I have put away the newborn size clothing in favor of bigger clothing and we have purchased our last box of N diapers.   Her once resting, not quite ready for the world face has been replaced with bright, alert eyes with the corners of her mouth beginning to smile.  It's the "hey, you look familiar" phase. . . but the precious itty-bitty is gone.*** It's heartbreaking and exciting all in the same moment.

This is likely the last time we will be down this journey with an infant and I am feeling frustrated that I am already missing what was, even if what 'was', was just last week or last month. 

Secondly, we find ourselves trekking through a familiar valley.  Moira didn't pass her newborn hearing screen. I chalked it up originally to a failure in equipment but it after two repeat tests, it appears that sweet daughter is hard of hearing.

I almost instantly felt a familiar wash of nausea and cold memories of having gone through this with James.  Looking back, I don't think I really processed those beginning days with James-- It was a dark time.  Routinely I have wanted to kick myself for not being more optimistic. I was so fearful of what the virus would mean for my sweet baby that I missed some sweet of the baby. 

Lessons aren't always learned just because you are able to articulate them in your mind's eye.  I am working through this lesson once again.

The darkest part for me was the suggestion by the pediatrician that we screen her for CMV.  I was always under the impression that it was nearly impossible to contract it again once you have immunity-- but it turns out there is a one in a million**** chance and it was worth screening.  Call it PTSD, but I sobbed for days-- walk into a room and sob, look at the sky and sob, look at the sweet baby and sob.  I couldn't deal with the guilt that I might have passed a virus to another child of mine-- especially after being so careful about my health.   It took two weeks to get the testing completed and for that time, I couldn't think about blogging with any sense of logic--in fact, there was very little I did successfully during this time.  I doggie paddled through the day and tried to fake it when out in public but inside I was still gutted with guilt and sadness.  The hormones probably didn't help either. 

So hence, the absence-- there isn't much to write when you want to finish each paragraph with "and I am sad and whiny."

I will save you the time and give you the spoiler alert, Moira doesn't have CMV, which was a tremendous outcome for us.  It means there are a lot of associated risks that we won't have to be on high alert for.  However it raises even more questions for James-- we have two kids with the same sort of hearing loss- which means we need to re-visit the genetic testing once again.  We didn't find a genetic tie when we went through this in 2009 but are told that much has advanced since then.  There is a possibility that although James did have CMV at 9 weeks old, that he either a) got it shortly after birth or b) did have congenital CMV but it didn't cause his hearing loss.*****    Moira looks great (to me at least) and seems like she is developing well-- we are hopeful that we will just be dealing with the hearing aids.

I have thought a lot about James these last few weeks-- especially James, the baby.  Those first few days and weeks were so fearful and I am working hard to not repeat those mistake again.  He has brought tremendous joy -- especially when I hear him sing or watch him break dance to his favorite tune.  Again, I know that not everyone has a good outcome, and many have it far worse-- but I am so delighted with seeing the journey of my little boy.  I couldn't have a better example of a fantastic outcome and a fantastic role model for his little sister.   I am not blind to the fact that we will once again be busy with extra appointments, specialists, insurance battles and the what not-- but I am going to try and slow down my racing mind when it comes to my relationship with her-- focus on the sweetness of the baby.  If Moira is half as fun as James, we should be in for a good time.

 So next steps--

Emotionally I am doing much better.  I have been keeping busy and focusing on joy.  I am also successfully enjoying the sweet within the sweet baby.  I can't get back the two weeks of fear and sadness but I am focused on the positive now and it feels pretty fantastic.  Loving a baby is a pretty good way to get your joy index up.

Clinically, there isn't a lot that can be done in Ketchikan so we are seeking treatment back in Minnesota.  We will return in December so that we can meet with the team at the U (where James went) and use our audiologist to do an ABR on Moira.  At that point, we will know exactly what she hears and doesn't so that she can be fitted with hearing aids.   A visit from friends and family should help the joy index as well.

So that's the life right now. . .We are carrying on as our merry band of six.  How sweet it is. 

*All six of you.
**Bad Friggen Attitude.
***Let's be real, it's not like she's graduating or anything, knuckle-bite. They grow old so fast. 
****Hyperbole. very small.
*****Matt has brought up the fact that we are an interesting clinical case.   It's certainly odd either way.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Two!

We are celebrating again in our little house today.  Simon Tirfe is two.  That's right-- although we have been feeling the effects for quite some time. . . today we officially have two-two year olds.   Wrap your arms around that one folks. . . TWO two year olds.   I am sure you are all feeling immense pangs of jealousy.*

Kidding aside, it's pretty sweet.  A good 90% is hilarious-- the other 10% is epic badness.  I think that's what having kids means though.

Simon has had an incredible couple months-- the arrival of the baby has made him suddenly a big boy.  He is very nurturing and caring for the baby while keeping up better with the bigger kids.   He is still our busy boy-- either taking things apart or putting them together.  We have found that he likes cars and trucks with a special love for construction vehicles which bring together the best of the  break/build/moving trifecta.

His smile lights up the room, his beginning words more frequent and his adventures dunking in the toilet less frequent.**  All in all, he is becoming one heck of a little boy.

Love this kid.


Simon's Birthday Video


*If that's not enough. . . we now have four kids in diapers. Granted James is only in night times. . and Daisy is ready but we haven't set the time aside to formally make the leap. . . but still-- we are currently buying diapers for four children.  

**Despite having giardia for almost two years of his life-- he has an odd magnetic relationship with standing water.  ie.  drinking out of a puddle on the deck etc.   Matt has contemplated calling him Darwin because of his combined sense for adventure and lack of self-preservation.

Last week I found him on a ladder eight feet up in the air.  AWESOME.  It's amazing what an industrious two year old can do with thirty seconds of unsupervised play.  Lesson learned, Mama.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gotcha

We are celebrating at the Fitz household-- one year ago a small boy joined our family.  Happy Gotcha day to Simon Tirfe.  


It's been an amazing year for him and even more amazing for us.  A year ago, he was a baby and now he is a running, busy toddler.  He is perhaps the most curious little boy I have met-- constantly moving, exploring, thinking, touching.  It's a bit of a handful as a two year old-- but I bet he is someone who will scale Everest- just because he wants to see what is on top.  He has so much to do in this world . . .

We are so grateful to have Simon in our life-- it's been a tremendous honor to be part of his journey. 



Monday, July 14, 2014

The Divine Miss M

Moira Mable Fitzpatrick 
July 6, 9:47am 
9 lbs, 21.5 inches



Excited for a sister.

The fan club
I am late on posting the news-- but I posted on Facebook, so I am covered.  :) Life with little M is going well-- everyone seems to be adjusting well to the new addition and we are maximizing sleep as best we can with an infant!  It's been a busy couple weeks but will hopefully slow down a bit as Nana is here to help!  Yay for reinforcements-- especially of the Nana variety.

All are in love with our sweet girl. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Forty Plus One

Well, my due date has come and gone and Matt is starting his third (and final) week of paternity leave.  No baby.    I wrote here before that this pregnancy has been very different than my other two-- I've had significant contractions for several weeks and yet this is my longest pregnancy.

All is probably working out the way that it was intended and I have been lucky in that I have felt very good at the end of this pregnancy.  It wasn't until last week or so that I finally started to feel the underlying exhaustion that claims many women's entire third trimester.    In other news on the "things working out" front, we ended up moving this week.  We found a house that was a much better long term option for us.   Although we thought we would have a baby before we moved, we instead moved the day before my due date.  Great timing, I know.

If this were Sesame Street, I would say that the word of the day was friendship.  We've been blessed with some truly amazing people here in Ketchikan who in essence saved our butt to help us get from one place to another despite the fact that day by day we didn't know if we would even be able to participate in our own move.  Although it was a messy day- we are almost entirely settled in our new space.  And let the angels sing. . . .it's not month to month.

One other blessing was getting to take part in the Ketchikan 4th of July festivities.  It's a big deal here-- tons of booths, a parade, great food and barbecues.   I feel like we were really part of the community today and I am so glad that we didn't miss it due to that pesky baby.  ;)

We've been talking lately about how our other two births have been very indicative of the child's personalities.  James was induced. . . .which is so very James-- thinking long and hard before commitment.  Daisy sprang into this world on her own schedule- six hours after the joy of my water breaking at Pizza Luce- determined, plucky and headstrong.  This baby faked me out for several weeks, a couple nights in Labor and Delivery only to wait to come after a big transition.  If historical patterns hold, this kid is either a joker or entirely considerate.

So that's all for the baby posts. . . . one day past due and still waiting.  We did talk to our OB about how this works from here-- how long we go before inducing, how to stay* in labor if more contractions start etc.   I feel like we have half a game plan so that helps.

We've all lost the pool for when baby will arrive- but revised bets are forming. Baby watch marches on.

*Starting labor hasn't been the issue-- I've had many nights with contractions 2-3 minutes apart only to have them magically clear up at 7:00am.  The trick is making the labor stick the landing. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stop CMV

It's almost the end of June and I realized that I nearly missed CMV awareness month.  Pardon me while I step onto my soapbox. 

I have had the good fortune to connect with many CMV families and although many doctors will tell you that it's rare-- it isn't as rare as you might think.  In fact, I have been amazed by the number of friends or friends of friends who have both lost kids and/or are dealing with devastating  situations due to this scary virus.



Our CMV story so far has been a very blessed one-- but there are many, many families caught off-guard by a disease that is under-represented in pregnancy literature.  I think many women during pregnancy are prepared mentally for risks-- some of which are well documented and many that may not register fully.  CMV was a virus that I didn't read about, didn't initially suspect when we failed our newborn hearing screen, nor did our medical providers lead us down a path of identification or toward treatment of CMV.  

It was off the radar for many, including me as a new mom. 

It wasn't until Dr. Google and a little help from clinicaltrials.gov that I brought my suspicion to my OB, who thankfully listened to me.  If it weren't for his follow up, we would still be 'un-diagnosed' hearing loss. (And we would have missed the opportunity to proactively treat.)  

I have read that 1 in 150 kids in the US are born with congenital CMV. That is a pretty significant population for something that may be at best a blip in a pregnancy book and never brought up by your OB. 
Only 13% of women have heard of CMV. More children have disabilities due to congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus) than other well-known infections and syndromes, including Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and Pediatric HIV/AIDS.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that infects people of all ages and is usually harmless to people with a healthy immune system. Women who have had CMV earlier in life are thought to be immune to the virus with low risk of passing on to their fetus.  However, if a woman develops a primary infection during pregnancy,  there can be a number of risks to the baby. 

How do you know if you 'caught CMV' during your pregnancy?   You may not. . . in fact many CMV infections produce no obvious symptoms.  I didn't remember ever getting really sick during my pregnancy with James-- sure there may have been one day where I went to bed at 8 instead of 9. . . . or felt a little extra achy. . . but many of the symptoms of CMV could also be symptoms of pregnancy itself.  You are hosting a parasite after all.

How can you help? Talk about it!  Get it on the radar! CMV is common enough that it should be on the minds of pregnant women as a real risk.  Personally, I think it's smart to find out if you have had the virus in the past prior to getting pregnant-- but if that's not an option . . . be smart (maybe not paranoid) about personal hygiene, especially around children.  Don't lick the spoon after feeding a baby. . . . wash your hands regularly. . . . don't share food with people who may be sick.    Being sick while pregnant blows anyway-- let's avoid it if possible shall we?

There are studies looking into treatment for women and unborn children who are infected in utero.   Knowledge is power and you may find yourself with some options if you know how to talk to your provider.

Not to be all gloom and doom, many children with CMV are asymptomatic and many are like James, who have mild/moderate hearing loss.  Those are the lucky ones though-- this can be a truly devastating situation for many children.  Other countries are starting to screen for CMV and be more proactive with the treatment for women and children.  Push it with your doctor, it might be worth it.   Once we were able to identify the situation for James, we were able to seek anti-viral treatment that has been shown to reduce risk of progressive hearing loss.   So far, we have been lucky and his hearing has been stable.  We won't know if it was because of any special treatment or not, but I feel good as a mom that I advocated for my child, did everything in our power to keep him as healthy as we could, and gave him his best shot against a nasty virus.

Stepping off my soap box now.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Potpourri

Hello internets!

I am having a tough time coming up with stuff to talk about lately because my mind has been a little consumed with baby thoughts.

It's been an interesting time over here-- it turns out BH contractions should really be called BS contractions.  Because it's true

Twice I have gone into Labor and Delivery because my BS contractions were regular (5 minutes apart and 3 minutes apart respectively) and the dial-a-nurse triage line told me to go in.   Going forward I will keep in mind that when pregnant, most nurse lines are going to follow protocol and tell you to go in. . . . something about a high-risk population blah blah.

Last weekend was a little extra adventurous as Matt was in Florida when I started having contractions-- they went on for about 8 hours and I seriously panicked that I was going to be having the baby without him.  I took a nap. .  and said contractions disappeared-- poof!   I made Matt freak out for nothing and here we are a week later still rocking the bump.

Other than the BS contractions, I am thinking a lot about baby because it was this day in my pregnancy that Daisy was born.   And I like to plan things, so in my head. . . it's any day now despite the fact that I am actually only 38 weeks.

Hear that baby?  I like to plan.  chop chop.

Bump Rocking.  Round is the new Black.
In other non-baby news, I missed thanking Matt for all he does.  Father's day came and went and with him traveling and me trying to not to have a child fall out, it unfairly became a blip.





Matt is a phenomenal father and I would be deeply remiss to not acknowledge his incredible spirit, love and humor he brings to the father role.






I recently wrapped a work project, so I am taking the weekend off to play-- I went to a very cool clothing exchange last night, am going to a farmers market and an auction today and a baby shower tomorrow.   It's also summer solstice- which is a pretty big deal here-- sun is only fully down for a couple hours a day.*

So, I am staying busy with ulterior motives.. . . following Murphy, then baby might fall out just to stomp on my alternative plans.  OK by me kid.**



Much love to you all.
* It's been an interesting time to be pregnant as I often get up in the middle of the night and find that the sun is up at 3:30.  Pretty cool.
**Chop chop.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Each Deserving of It's Own

There is a lot going on in our little world and although each of these things deserves it's own post-- lack of time means they are getting smushed together. *

Matt's grandfather "pop" passed away this weekend in Florida.  Matt was able to "pop" down to see him for one last time this weekend and spend some time with family-- which was pretty great.  He was a vibrant, funny man who touched many in his 100 short years on earth.   Although it's hard to lose someone that lively and generous, he lived a great life and I suspect is toasting us all from above with a Manhattan.**  

Many of you who were at our wedding will remember Pop- he was quite the character.  He'll be missed by many, many people.


Also on the topic of life, I am nearing the end of my pregnancy.  I have been reflective much of the last few weeks on the beauty and honor of pregnancy.  I'll be honest, this pregnancy was less comfortable than my other two and I spent a good portion of the time wishing it away.  Now with only a few days/weeks left I am feeling a sentimentality that I didn't expect.  Pregnancy is a tremendous gift and I am finding new appreciation each day.  Things like touching the baby's footprint on my stomach or the jolt of a knee against my ribs seem sacred and beautiful.

I am not sure if I will have the honor of carrying a child like this again-- which make me feel like I am grasping onto a fleeting memory-- something that will slip away before it's time is up.  For as excited as I am to meet the little one,  I am also wishing that I could hold on to these sensations so that I could visit them later in life.***

It really is the most amazing experience and it's a shame they can't bottle it and sell it at Target.  

Both these items come down to a celebration of life.  Life is funny that way.






*I have no idea how to spell smushed.  Smooooshed?
**or two.
***When I re-visit, I may editorialize a bit and skip the acid reflux and back pain.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Programming


We are settled back in after Nana and Pop Pop's trip. We had a great time visiting with them and are now back into the routine-- the final week of school in fact.

Here are some highlights from our time with them.  (Unfortunately blogger has been a little finicky lately which is why pictures will be limited and posting in general has been light.)


Fishing:  Matt and his dad clocked many hours on the new boat. They caught a cod and a sea cucumber but otherwise struck out on the fishing front.   However, we hit the jackpot when it came to crab!  We laid five traps and ended up catching around 20 crab--of which we kept 8, ate 3 and froze 5.  We're having fun creating new crab recipes-- turns out I make a kick ass crab cake. Matt ranked me number 2 all time behind Salut in Minneapolis.  Either way, I* thank him.  He's a tough critic!

James had the unfortunate incident of dropping his pole into the water- which prompted a very sad day in a little boy's life.   We have been practicing the phrase "sometimes things happen" a lot right now but it would appear this phrase only works when you actually don't care about the thing that happened-- like spilling a little on the floor etc.  When you slip and get dunked in the ocean with your clothes on this phrase is wholly ineffective.** 
This is what was left AFTER everyone ate.

Hiking:  We went out and did a loop near some waterfalls and it was beautiful.  It was the same walk that Matt and I did when we were thinking about Ketchikan as a future home-- it's green and rainforesty and everything I like about Ketchikan.   We then looked for starfish and did our best to re-populate the ocean with rocks. ***

Hiking is code for nap time in some circles.
Lumberjack Show:  One of the more advertised tourist spots is a lumberjack show-- we went because we thought the kids would like it and since Matt's dad works in a lumber related field, we thought it would be interesting. *** We all loved it-- James especially.****  It got a little loud at parts but James did well and managed it. It was actually really fun and hokey.  It seemed like the guys were having a blast out there and I only worried about the safety of their appendages about 14 times.  

General Merriment:  We had some great meals, great conversation and lots of Nana lap time.  Well, not me.  I weigh twice as much as her right now. . . but the rest of us did.


Simon and his Girlfriend
Now we are back to our little life-- except our little life is a little busy right now.  Matt and I are both working quite a bit this week and James had his last day of school yesterday. It's been beautiful, so we have been trying to get the kids outside and enjoy all that Ketchikan has to offer!




*And the bastardized version of the Paula Deen recipe I used.

**As learned last night during a rapid wrap-up to an otherwise very fun beach bbq. 
***It made a difference to that one.  Wait. 

****And it's super affordable for locals.
*****James is now a lumberjack/ninja/karate guy football player.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Family Near and Far

John and Joan are visiting this week and we are all over the moon.  It's been great to show them a little bit of our life here and to spend some time with them.

We have had fun doing some "tourist" stuff and Matt, John and James  are waking at the crack of dawn to chase salmon.   They haven't been successful yet but I am sure today is the day( ! ) A friend lent us some crab traps and we put those out this morning and are hoping for some fun surprises later this afternoon.  Fingers crossed.*

Our favorite activities have been fishing, boating, a picnic at Ward Lake and a visit to the Discovery Center.  Well, that and the general loving up of Nana and Pop Pop.




Yesterday some wonderful friends here in Ketchikan hosted a diaper shower for me**.   As this is my fourth baby and being new to Ketchikan, this was beyond expected!  They even planned the luncheon so that Joan could attend while she was visiting-- so incredibly thoughtful and kind. 

These are an amazing group of women-- supportive and celebratory of each other.  They call themselves the 'coffee girls' because they meet for coffee once a week to catch up.

I remember being in their coffee shop one morning in February when they were gathering.  At the time, I had no idea they would become my friends but I remember remarking to myself at what a beautiful group of friendships they appeared to have.  It's rare to find a group of gals so accepting and warm.   Now, I am so glad to have them in my life and am hopeful that I can be as supportive of them as they have been of me during this big transition.  They are pretty stellar.



I have been reflecting a lot on family lately-- we are making a big step this summer as family as we grow from five to six and being far from the support of my friends and family is hard in some ways.  Finding such incredible people here in Ketchikan has been a unexpected blessing but one that makes me realize that family can come in many forms and this girl is very thankful for the Ketchikan family.




*But lasagne as a back up for dinner.
**I haven't been to a diaper shower before, but what a great idea for a mom with 3 kids in diapers!  So grateful to be stocked up before the babe arrives!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Visitors

Our house is in mad preparations for visitors-- but not just any visitors-- the Nana and Pop Pop variety.

Here is what preparation looks like for us.

All kids have newly painted toe nails.  James went with blue this time- because it's a boy color but followed it up with sparkles.  That's my boy.   Daisy also went blue but is insisting that hers are yellow.   I am sporting purple with sparkles in honor of the new baby coming next month that could swing either way.

James spent much of the afternoon practicing snack time for when he will get to feed Nana and Pop Pop.  On the menu-- toast.   Maybe he can show them how to make a Y when we hit craft time.

He is also practicing his after dinner (toast) performance of Ninja skills.  James is 1 whole month into Karate (ninja) and is excited to show his mad skills: like holding a foot up in the air, jumping jacks and teaching them the complexities of freeze tag.   Pop Pop will hopefully be ok with adjusting the Notre Dame Football plays that run constantly in our house to now include the occasional Hi-Ya.




The kids have been saving their stars so that they can buy a treat for Nana and Pop Pop at Ketchicandi tomorrow.  I'd put a 20 down on the fact that despite  it's their treat and they get to pick it. . ..everyone is leaving with gummi frogs.  

I think the grandparents are going to want the extra sugar high as we are PUMPED up to see them! Hi-YA


We're stoked to send some time with these awesome folks and explore Ketchikan-- what has become  a pretty special place for us.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Solidarity, Brother

James is in time-out.  The rest of this peaceful sit-in is to demonstrate support.

Overheard

Dana: Remember when I said this week should be pretty chill? Let me take that back.

Matt: I didn't believe you anyway.

Dana: How is that for trust in our marriage?

Matt: As for trust. I trust that we will be busy, if past is any indication.

Dana: Could be worse.  I'm not doing a play. 


At least we are on the same page, right? 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

General Updates-- The Fitz Life and Times

I am well overdue for an update but we have been busy busy over here.

I will start by saying that I feel like we have really started to hit our stride here in Ketchikan.  So in general, these are good updates the lack of posting is indicative of us being out and about.

We are feeling much more at home in Ketchikan.  I would say that the big factors for me personally are two fold-- I am finding my social life really satisfying and my professional life is vibrant and interesting.*

The organizational stresses of initially moving here and coordinating IEP's, utilities, day care schedules, moving, rentals etc etc have started to fade and we are now busy in an entirely new way-- the normal way.   (for us)

I have made many new friends that remind me a lot of my friends from home-- they are lovely, supportive of each other and graceful-- although it makes me miss my 'girls',  I am very thankful for how welcoming my new friends have been.  It's been a real source of joy for me lately.

Work wise, I am at 'capacity'** with some interesting projects.  It's been a remote relationship, but thanks to my previous work history-- the remote gig is something I am very comfortable with.  Matt has been really helpful in picking up some of the family slack so that I can work, so props to him there.  It's also been fun to engage with some old colleagues in their new ventures.  I am going to hold on taking new work for the next couple months but hopefully will be able to expand my consulting in the fall time frame.

In other news, we have a new addition to the family---  we bought a boat!  It's pretty old but it's got a great cabin underneath with a bathroom, table and a bed so we can take it out for some longer fishing trips.  We didn't want to spend a ton of money on this but boats don't depreciate much year over year-- so the plan is for us to recoup some of the expense when we are ready to sell it.  I have never gone fishing so this will be a new experience for me. . . . my former life is seemingly further and further away.  I haven't worn a pair of heels in 3 months, my suits are gathering dust and I now own a boat.  Crazy this life.

Captain, Skipper, First Mate


I do feel really optimistic about how life is going-- I am loving this time with our family and am glad that we made the decision to jump into a new life despite the risks.***




*I could also probably just say that I my professional life is "present and accounted for" which is probably enough.  I missed working y'all-- never thought I would say that but it's surprisingly an important factor for me and I am happy to be engaging in some cool projects.

**Capacity for me is not full time-- but I have a couple great consulting gigs that fill about 20 hrs a week-- which is about perfect for right now.

***We only have 4 months left on our lease in the more stable, long term lease (sarcasm)- so my risk aversion and general attitude may swing  dramatically once we have four (4!!!) babies and are moving for the fourth (4!!!) time in one year.  I do know this is ridiculous so no need for a reminder.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Heart of Gold

Does anyone else see the resemblance?  




Doppelganger




Need to get the hair under control.








We are raising Neil Young. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Overheard

Dana:  What do you guys want to listen to?

Daisy: Let it Go.

Matt: Wilco it is.

Dana: That's not what sh. . .

Matt: I heard her.




Control of the dial continues to be a hot topic around these parts. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Adoption Language

I came across this video on Facebook last week and thought I would share if you haven't seen it.  In this video, the dad compares adoption language to a boob job-- aka, if you wouldn't say it about a boob job, you should avoid it for adoption as well.  




In general, I think this is great.  We have received a few comments about our adoption that fall into the boob job genre "how much was he?" "Where are his real parents?" Sure, those comments make you cringe a bit but I think there is usually a genuine intent behind the question.  

Often, I think some times people want to ask questions about Simon but are tentative to step into taboo territory. *   It's also as clear to me when someone is trying to walk on egg shells about our conspicuous family by over-complimenting his looks or intelligence or avoiding the adoption subject entirely.**

If people want to ask about costs or process, I would hope to be a resource for another family interested in the journey.  There is always a time and place for supporting each other-- even if the topic is sensitive.   Also for our friends and family- we wanted to be transparent about the process so they could support us (and him) in our journey to adopt.  I am not easily offended by curiosity!

So, for as much as I love the sentiment behind the video (and can certainly appreciate the humor), I would still encourage people to keep talking even if it means that sometimes it gets a little bumbled. 

Here is a resource on positive adoption language from Adoptive Families-- let's keep the conversation hopping!  

Speaking of language-- sweet Simon has crossed over from approximate mumblings to more clear words.  We heard a great "more pasta" and a "daddy" the other day.   He can get frustrated making his point*** so we are hoping that language will give him the freedom to make his needs better known.


*I think we all know when someone is trying to choose their words carefully. . .  it's a little awkward and certainly doesn't further dialogue!  
**I kid you not, someone complimented his brown eyes and then said "just like his mama!"
***And he is approaching two

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We Three Chins of Orient Are

Pregnancy is going well,  I shared with everyone my fear of contracting* a virus during pregnancy and I am glad to say that my third screen was all clear.  I am free of Fifths!  Thank you for all the prayers and reassurance.  I really appreciate it.

Other than that, things are looking good for the 31st week of pregnancy-- still exercising a bit, still chasing monkeys, and working on my third chin. ** ***



*another
**I gained six pounds in two weeks.  OOPS.  That said, I have been drinking a LOT of water, so I have to think some of it is water weight-- either way, I am feeling a little plump.
***Funny enough, once I got the all clear on the parvo screen, Matt got some bizarre news- he is showing positive blood work for TB.  He get's tested annually for work and for the first time he is showing it.  It's not active and isn't a risk to me or the kids. . .  but he will be going on 9 months of medication to make sure it remains dormant.  The BEST part?  (if you ask me)  He won't be able to drink during the next nine months.  Sweet irony.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Neighbors

The plot next door is empty and one of the trees has an eagle nest so we often see them hunting near our deck. 


Not a bad neighborhood.  The neighbors are pretty awesome.  (haven't stopped by with a plate brownies yet though.. . . maybe that is my Minnesota showing. )

Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Pin" Away

James came home from school with a "surprise" for me.  He burst in the door and threw down his backpack to dig out what was the  best. surprise. ever.

I thought maybe it was an advanced Mother's day present but no. . . . it was another of his extreme crafting projects.

You Pinterest users might want to take note. 



It's a Y.   



Let me tell you the directions as best I understand them:

1. Cut a line halfway down a strip of paper




2. Pull it apart.





Feel free to email if you need further clarification and I'll get you in touch with the artist in residence. 



God, I love this kid*


*When I picked James up yesterday, his teacher also commented on his craft-- and confirmed that indeed, this was an original creation and not a class project.   Pretty neat. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Bennie Experience

My college celebrates 100 years of educating women this year.  This particular weekend is the celebration gala, and sadly I won't be in attendance.   Although I am disappointed to miss the event, I have had Bennies on the mind lately so I thought I would use my tiny platform to talk about my Bennie experience. 

Right before moving, my uncle, Paul, found a copy of a speech I had given at a donor event in the spring of my senior year.  My god-parents came to the event and had saved the speech all these years.  Although my writing has changed a bit during the years since this event and my perspective even more. . . . I thought I would post it as a way to honor my experience with CSB and in hopes that any Bennies or Bennie-minded folk out there might consider a gift to the college-- an institution that did so much for me.

By some standards, I would consider my college experience to be ordinary; I had my late night papers where five am rolled around and I saw the first light of dawn,  I had my heart to heart conversations with my floor mates and I felt the rush of walking out of a test that was well prepared for.  This is what the ordinary college experience is.    However, the ordinary for St. Ben's goes far and above the expected.   The gifts that the College of Saint Benedict have given me shaped who I am as a woman now.   The ordinary that St. Ben's offers is filled with sacred interactions, moments of beauty and the graceful growth of girls into women.   I feel honored to have the opportunity to thank you for the extraordinary gift you have given me and the rest of the student body. 
It is in the daily ordinary acts of love that I can best demonstrate to you how CSB aids in the personal development of women, and how blessed we are for your generosity.  I came to St. Ben's to be around women.  My mother passed away when I was fifteen and since I have had an increased appreciation for the way women interact.  The women of St. Ben's have taught me and pushed me to grow.  Again, the growth process can be quite ordinary but what I can share from my St. Ben's experience is far from.
Sister Janice Wedl more than anyone has embodied the St. Ben's experience for me.  In the fall of my sophomore year on any old day I was running and stopped at McGlynns for water and a snack.  On the way out of the atrium,  a sister stopped me-- Sr. Janice.  She attempted to sell me a plant from the sisters' annual plant sale.  I politely refused stating that it wouldn't work out well for the plant.  Domestic ability have never been a personal strength and I didn't want the plant to bear the weight of my inabilities.  She tried a few more approaches and when I explained that I really wasn't capable of caring for another living thing nor did I have the meager three dollars to purchase it, she took a small plant in a blue pot and handed it to me-- saying 'take this, water it and you will be be fine.'   The plant had one leaf barely peaking above the soil and I again tried to refuse it-- she looked me straight in the eye, smiled me and firmly told me that it wasn't polite to refuse a gift.  Sr. Janice doesn't remember meeting me at the plant sale-- a memory I have held throughout my college career- yet, just an ordinary part of her daily routine.
Thankfully, she does remember how she became a constant in my life.   I contacted her while on senate about planning a new event-- a 'Bennie' day during homecoming.   Sr. Janice is the head of the Benedictine Friends mentor program and I wanted to combine the opening event for the mentor program with the first ever 'Bennie Day.'  Thankfully, she agreed.  At the event, she came up, tapped me on the shoulder and said that 'we girls' should hang out more often.  I smiled and said yes. . . she then asked me if I had a Benedictine friend and I said that I didn't; adding that I didn't really have time for one.  In true Janice style- she didn't take no for an answer and the next week I got a postcard in the mail from Texas-- where Sr. Janice was apparently on vacation.  The friendship has grown since and in so many ways was a mother or grandmother figure for me during college.
She once hugged me and slipped ten dollars in my pocket.  It's not unusual to find a special pencil or some stickers in my campus mailbox. She has brought groceries to my house for my roommates and I. She took me out for margaritas on her last birthday.  Recently she even called to tell me that after a funeral of a friend that she picked out some things that she thought I might need after graduation-- plates, silverware, a microwave and a few pairs of socks.  I told her that she reminded me of my grandmother and now Grandma Janice jokes about the possibilities of grandchildren while living a celibate life.  
Grandma Janice gave me a plant once and taught me more about beauty and personal growth than I could have ever learned in a classroom.
1 Corinthians 3 states "So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but it is God who gives the growth for we are God's co-workers."  Just as the plant in the blue pot had the ability to grow under the right circumstances, I too have been mentored by many grace-filled people in such ordinarily beautiful ways. That is the root of the St. Ben's experience.  
There are many examples of how the ordinary day to day actions foster women's growth.  My college experience is in a reality a series of the simple interactions that were laced with meaning for me-- many of whom are in this room.  Sr. Emmanuel who had me over for dinner last week and asked me what it meant to be Catholic and catholic and didn't let me out of the conversation until I stumbled out of my own circular argument.  President Mary Lyons who once came to a senate meeting unannounced to talk about the raw nature of women's leadership, Kolleen Kellom who invited me to come to Christmas Eve mass with her family at St. John's, Babs Koch who asked me mid-lunch how my prayer life was going, Anne Ford Nelson who taught me how to shake hands in a more powerful way.   These women may not even remember these conversations, but that only exemplifies how the extraordinary can occur in the ordinary-- simple acts that reinforce the community's ability to foster women's growth.  I have been asked if I chose CSB as a way to seek out women's role models and I don't know how to answer that accurately-- yes, I am attracted to strong women, but as a student at St. Ben's I have never had to seek them out intentionally.  The community itself has provided ample opportunity to learn from the ordinary acts of extraordinary women.   Thank you for your part in making this institution more than a place of classrooms and curriculum---for me it was much, much more. 
As a way of post-script, I think it's important to note a few things as to how my perspective has changed over the years.  As I read the above I have the natural cringe that happens anytime you read something you wrote as a young'un and although the sentiments remain true, the complexity has increased.   Three things come to mind:

Joan sent me a picture of the plant after I posted this.  Growing strong since 2000.
  1. My relationship with Janice grew in the years after I graduated.  My favorite memory was the many Easters we spent together at the monastery with her and her friends playing cards at 9:00am after day-break mass.  She passed away three years ago but I am glad to say that she met infant James and proudly declared him a great grandson.  I still have the plant-- and 15 years later, its enormous. Joan-- you are still watering it right?
  2. Students in my situation* generally don't make it through college.   I didn't have a FAFSA to file which meant I wasn't eligible to apply for government grants or loans and my entire family contribution during college was the $20 that my dad gave me when he dropped me off on day one.  There were several times where I thought I would have to leave and I remember sitting in the financial aid office while they helped me come up with a game plan-- including borrowing a college car to go down to St. Paul get a copy of my birth certificate so that I could apply for private loans,  initial help with getting on medicaid so that I'd have health insurance and a bridge loan to help me pay my first month of rent after I graduated from college. These 'services' aren't needed by all students but the humanity they showed me meant the difference between me getting an education or not.** St. Ben's fought for my future even when I didn't have a lot of fight left.
  3. As a senior, I wrote about the women leaders I found at St.Ben's.  The group that is entirely absent is the friendships that I made while I was there.  As a student I was focused and determined, fearful and dare I say that lead me to be a little prickly--- my Bennie friends taught me a lesson that I never anticipated-- community.   I thought every task was Dana vs Goliath and they helped me learn to take help and give help in return.   I have so many wonderful Bennies (and a few Johnnies) in my life to this day that I get a little emotional writing about it.   They are the ones who stay with your kids when you need to go to the doctor,  let you borrow a car when you don't have one****send flowers when the 'sense' you are down, offer a couch when you are in-between housing,  help you set up your new apartment at 3am when you leave a bad relationship and cheer you on no matter what is going on in life.  In all the struggles college and after, I learned that I didn't have to do it alone and I am a better friend in return for it.  These are my sisters  (and brothers). 
  4.   
Everyone has a different Bennie experience****-- which is what makes that place so special- and why I give today to the future Bennie.   I wish I could join the gala tomorrow-- but maybe I'll wear something special like pearls, yoga pants and a Bennie sweatshirt while I raise a mocktail in your honor. Congrats to the college-- here's to the next generation.



*I don't talk much here about my family life prior to college, and I won't go into a lot of detail now either. I was an non-traditional student who came from a seemingly very traditional background.   My dad believed in true independence once you graduate from highschool-- I haven't spent a night at home since I left nor did he visit during the four years of college.   We aren't close now-- for a variety of reasons but I have come to peace with his parenting choices during this time. Grief does a lot of funny things to people and as I have aged, I am more and more empathetic about where he was at that time of his life.

**I did have a reasonable degree of grit and street smarts at this point in my life but no amount of waitressing was going to cover the jump between where I was (my spending budget was $100 a semester including my new insurance!) and where I needed to be in order to be a college student.  CSB invested in my future and made the necessary moons align so that I could be who I am today.  No amount of thanks is enough.

***I didn't have a car until I was 24.  Long live the Saturn!

****This is my rare personal post. 

Happy Fasika

This is a little late- but I wanted to wish everyone a happy Easter.  We celebrated by making an Ethiopian meal for our new friends here in Ketchikan-- complete with home-made Injera.   This was our first attempt and once we have it down, hopefully I can share some tips here.  

For those of you unfamiliar with Ethiopian food, it's primarily a variety of stews served family style on a spongy, sour pancake that you break off and use as a utensil.  The spongy pancake is called Injera and it's made with a grain called Teff (tef) and when made correctly adopts it's sour flavor after having fermented for several days.* We ended up using a recipe that was a hybrid of Teff, other flours and yeast-- it wasn't perfect but it was close-enough.

Easter (Fasika) is a big holiday in Ethiopia and we were so glad to host some friends for the celebration. 


*Naturally, we didn't do that--  we ordered whole tef instead of tef flour and were short on time because we were using a coffee grinder to turn it into flour, 2 tablespoons at a time.  Classic.