Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Urban Farming

Clara told me this week that she wants to be a farmer when she grows up.  I think every child must say this at some point and love that she is in this stage.  It makes me so glad that we went ahead and got four baby chicks for the girls for Easter because now that the weather is turning nicer and they have outgrown their brooder in the garage (just a big cardboard box that we kept them in with a heat lamp), they are ready to move outside into their coop and we are all having so much fun hanging out in our backyard watching the chickens (they are hardly chicks anymore even though Clara still calls them that) peck around for bugs.  


So within about 30 seconds of seeing the chicks on Easter morning, Clara gave them names like Fluffster, Puffster, Chirpster and something else (I can't really remember).  After explaining that they were girls and we should really give them girl names, she immediately set on Anna and Elsa for two that look very similar.  Then it took a little while to come up with the other two names because I kept vetoing Fluffster but the other two are Gertie and Dorcas (although Dorcas is still called Chirpster half the time, which admittedly is pretty fitting since she chirps more than any of the others when we go to grab her).  Dorcas, a Barred Rock with mostly black feathers, is named for the dark-haired girl in 7 Brides For 7 Brothers.  She is also Rose's favorite chicken, which is obvious because she is the one that Rose follows around the yard, scooping her up when she gets close enough and holding her proudly for us to see.


Paul spent a good part of this past Saturday building a pen for the chickens in our side yard.  Their coop is for night-time and laying eggs (in a couple of months once they are even bigger and start producing), but they need more space to roam while still being protected from predators like raccoons so Paul used wood and chicken wire to build a pen around the coop to keep them safe.  He didn't use any plans or anything - he just came up with how to construct it off the top of his head because he is a genius and super handy and very manly.  He is also a really good sport because the whole backyard chicken thing was totally my idea that he has been good natured about.




And speaking of our backyard, it's a complete wreck right now.  Our big remodel project for 2016 is going to be the exterior of our home, so Paul has been working hard tearing out bushes, cement, and moving dirt, etc. to get ready to install french drains and new retaining walls since the old walls were failing.  It is going to be a long, long process but we are planning on repainting the house, installing new retaining walls in the back, side, and front yards (we live on a hill and have to have them), and probably pouring new concrete for a back patio, side walkway, and maybe even a new driveway as part of the whole project.  And then there is landscaping on to of all that.  It's pretty overwhelming thinking about it and I'm not even the one doing any of the work (until it comes to landscaping and then I'm pretty handy with picking out plants and doing a lot of the planting).  Until then, the girls and the chickens are enjoying having a dirt/root/rock pile to climb on in the backyard.



Clara has a favorite chicken of her own.  It's Elsa and she let's Clara carry her around and pick her up and set her down over and over.  If Clara wasn't as hypervigilant about pointing out every time Elsa poops, she would probably try bringing her into the house and making her a house chicken.



We sure are looking forward to having eggs to gather and eat here in a few more months!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Going Under the Knife

A year ago, on April Fool's Day 2015, I had an appointment with an orthodontist to talk about getting braces to fix my teeth, which were getting more and more crooked each year.  I had braces for 5 years as a kid, but my orthodontist was super old and basically admitted that he couldn't get my bite just right and was retiring and we were moving so he just took them off, gave me an upper retainer only and sent me on my merry way.  At the appointment, after taking x-rays and examining my bite, the orthodontist explained that the only way to fix my teeth was to do old-school metal braces (I had been hoping for Invisalign) and surgery where my jaw would have to be broken and reset to correct my bite.

Then he showed me a simulation video of how and where the jaw would be broken and moved around.  And I started bawling and freaking out.  Then I went home and scheduled two more consultations with different orthodontists for a second and third opinion.

Long story short, they all said the same thing:  I had a "severe skeletal Class II malocclusion with a transverse deficiency problem."  Basically a terrible cross-bite and overbite that could be corrected only through surgical intervention, not just braces.  Because of my bad bite, my left joint in my jaw is "severely worn down from the open bite trauma" (this is all from a letter from the orthodontist I went with to my oral surgeons discussing treatment).

I got my braces on in May, which I blogged about back then.  It was all mostly funny ha-ha and the surgery was a far-off concept until a couple of months ago when we finally set a date for the procedure and started ramping things up with my treatment and meeting with the surgeons to prepare.

This Friday - April Fool's Day 2016, exactly 1 year from that first consultation about getting braces - I will be going in to have a 4-hour surgery where my jaw will be broken in 5 places, then plated with metal plates, screwed into a new position and wired shut for almost 2 weeks.  It's not going to be fun.

While I am wired shut, I won't be able to eat anything other than liquids.  And not even regular smoothies or milkshakes, which are supposedly too thick to get past my teeth.  We are talking chicken broth and apple juice that can trickle between my teeth because even if I COULD suck from a straw (which I won't be able to), I couldn't get a straw, even a small one.  At the class preparing me (and Paul) for the surgery, they said that we can try smoothies or shakes but first need to put them through a fine mesh strainer and I should be able to consume the resulting liquid.  So, yeah, that's going to be fun.  Also, no blowing my nose, sneezing through my nose, picking up anything more than 5 pounds or any kind of exercise for at least 6 weeks so I don't open up a wound or break sutures inside my nose or mouth.  Oh, and the vomiting blood and nose-bleeds that are side effects of the surgery for the first week.  It won't be pretty.

Once the wires come off, I will still have a splint in my mouth (sort of like a mouth guard that keeps my upper jaw in place but allows me to move the lower jaw) and at that point I should be able to move up to things like yogurt, applesauce, and anything soft enough to mush but not chew for another 4-6 weeks until the splint comes off and some bone has started forming between the broken sections of jaw.

The nurse explained that most people don't complain of pain after the surgery so much as feeling really uncomfortable.  All the incisions are on the inside of my mouth and they remove the nerves in the upper and lower jaws and set them to the side while they operate, then tuck them back inside when they are done.  Apparently doing that paralyzes or numbs them like when you get a cavity filled at the dentist.  Except instead of the numbness wearing off after one afternoon, it takes anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months (or longer) for the numbness (which will be my entire face below my eyes) to go away.

The other big part of the discomfort is from the swelling, which is pretty extreme for most people.  I will have to wear an ice pack that surrounds my face non-stop for the first 72 hours, and then 30 minutes of every hour for the next week after that to keep the swelling to a minimum.  And even at that, when they showed us pictures of patients who have been through the surgery before and documented their progress day-by-day, the swelling by day 5 is painful just to look out.  After that it is supposed to start subsiding and by 9 months after the surgery (sometimes 12), I should look how I am going to look for the rest of my life because all of the swelling will be gone.  I'm not exactly looking forward to looking like a chubby bunny for the next 9 months.

I hope it is worth it.  A big motivating factor for doing this now is that our insurance covers the entire procedure and all I have to pay is a $20 co-pay, which is amazing.  Each of the three orthodontists I consulted with said "please tell me you have Kaiser?" when they realized surgery would be necessary because of how good they are with the amount of coverage for this.  Also, I knew my teeth were just going to keep getting worse and worse and this would eventually result in more pain (it already feels pretty terrible) and they say the older you are the harder it is to recover from surgery.  But I'm worried about not being able to care for the girls, not being able to talk normally, what it will be like to throw up with my jaws wired shut (a major concern and one that we talked quite a bit about in the prep class), the recovery time, how I will look afterwards (both in the near and far terms) and so much more.  Thankfully my parents are coming to stay with us and take care of me and the girls and Paul while I am out of commission.

Wish me luck.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter 2016

I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking in this post.  We had a wonderful Easter this year.  The girls were thrilled with their Easter baskets filled with books, a new swimsuit for each of them, gardening gloves, bubbles, and a couple of movies (Snow White and The Wizard of Oz).  Of course, they each got a chocolate bunny as well, which Rose was pretty jazzed about.  Clara and Rose loved following Paul around the house, tracing the path the Easter bunny took through our rooms by following the line of yarn that zigzagged all over the place until finally leading to each of the hidden Easter baskets.  The biggest surprise of all though was in the garage where there were four baby chicks sitting in a brooder under a heat lamp.  I need to get some pictures of them for the blog but we have been spending much of our day out there with them and Clara is beyond proud of having figured out how to catch them each and hold them in her hands.  






The girls looked so darling in their Easter finery.  I cannot get over Rose's little 3/4-length sleeve jacket that goes with her dress.  We had been talking about the reason why we celebrate Easter with Clara during the week and she said the sweetest prayers on Easter thanking Heavenly Father that Jesus was resurrected so we can all get our bodies back some day.


After Rose's nap, we went over to Paul's Aunt Claudia and Uncle Rich's house for Easter dinner.  They had filled eggs as well and hidden them around their backyard so we did a little Easter egg hunt before going back in for dessert.  I just love watching the girls hunt for eggs.  It slays me how they react, especially Rose.














A few days before Easter, Clara's preschool had an Easter party and egg hunt that I got to go to as Room Mom.  The kids had prepped for it all week - dying eggs one day, making their bags another - and were all so excited to find 4 real hard boiled eggs each.  










And immediately after Clara's preschool party, we went to another egg hunt with friends from the stake.  One of the buildings in our stake has a big grassy lot behind it and up behind that is a small field.  After finding eggs, the kids could either do crafts that had been provided or explore the field and all-in-all we had a fine afternoon with friends.







We did one other Easter egg hunt on Saturday with friends at their annual Peeps Diorama competition where our "We the Peeps" diorama replicating the painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence tied for 3rd place.  I don't have any pictures of the hunt there, but here is a phone pic of our diorama and the inspiration piece by Jonathan Trumbull.  It was such a fun idea that is in its 10th year running (the Washington Post started it and you can see the official WP entries here).



And now I can't believe Easter is over already!  There are no more big holidays until the 4th of July, now, right?  Except birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, our anniversary, Talk Like a Pirate Day, Memorial Day...,,,

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

On Giving Low-Fives: My Most Embarrassing Moment

I have recently had occasion to relate my "most embarrassing moment" story and realized I have never posted about it on the blog.  We all have one (or should, shouldn't we?) and they get pulled out and dusted off to cheer us (or others) or to allow us to relive the embarrassment again in a safer moment and through the filtered lens of time.  I actually have two solidly mortifying experiences in my back pocket as my "most embarassing moments" but the winner is definitely the one that involved giving a senior law partner at a prestigious firm a low-five in close quarters, when he was not expecting one in the least because I completely misread a gesture (and apparently lost my mind for a second and thought that low-fives were a normal and reasonable thing to do in the legal practice or life in general for that matter.  I mean, of course, right?).

It was toward the end of my summer associateship at a big law firm in Palo Alto when I was invited by a litigation partner for whom I had done quite a bit of work to attend a large arbitration in San Francisco where there were something like 8 or 10 or so law firms representing various parties all with varying degrees of interest in the complex legal matter that was being handled.  Mine was a primarily observatory role with note-taking support for two partners from my firm and during the day the sets of legal counsel for the interested parties were shuffled between large and small conference rooms, first meeting in large groups and then 2 or 3 going off to discuss side matters.  I was honestly a little starstruck at the whole process and the views from the ump-teenth floor of one of the skyscrapers downtown where we were arbitrating and I had very little to do of substance besides just follow along and try to absorb as much as I could and keep up.  It felt sort of like a little gift to be invited along since I knew these partners didn't need me at all - like "take your daughter to work day", except, you know, I wasn't their daughter and I was getting paid.

So sometime after lunch I ended up in a small room with an older, kind of gruff partner from one of our main competing firms and his summer associate, and the partner from my firm.  We (okay, they) were discussing the merits of various arguments and points were being made by each side and (and this is where time slows down and a high pitched warning buzz fills my head) the senior partner from the competing firms makes a point while opening his palms at about waist level in a semi-"am-I-right-or-am-I-right?" kind of shrug which I (incorrectly) interpreted as an invitation for a low-five for no rational reason whatsoever.  Which I promptly accepted with an enthusiastic slap on his upturned palm (the instinct to connect the low-five before the hand was pulled away with a taunting "too slow!" apparently kicked in), thereby completing the low-five exchange and proving my social (and professional) ineptitude.  

The best part is that the poor old fellow didn't see it coming AT ALL and didn't seem to know what had just happened (neither did I).  I even had a time-slows-down-as-I-see-what-is-about-to-happen-and-can't-stop-it moment of alarm just before the slap.  The partner I worked for had missed the exchange while shuffling through some papers in a folder.  Or at least that is what I told myself afterwards, even though he kept giving me strange sideways glances for the rest of that breakout session.  The other summer associate looked scandalized (appropriately so).  But he also looked a little worried, like maybe it was normal for summer associates to act that way and why hadn't he been low-fiving partners all summer long?!!  I can't possibly be the only summer associate ever who overanalyzed these kinds of social exchanges this way.  So we all moved on like nothing had happened, while I sat there wishing I could shrink away to nothing.  

Even now I cringe just reliving that in order to type it up.  A week later I got an offer to come work full-time for the firm after graduation, so... all's well that ends well.

Most embarrassing moment Number 2 involves a boy and a crush and years of joking about it with my best friend who also had a crush on the same boy, until suddenly some guys who knew the object of our shared (and only partially joking) obsession who I did not know but who knew my roommate at the time were invited into my room and saw the boy's high school senior picture (which had been color-scanned out of the yearbook, enlarged and framed by the friend with the mutual crush on him as a gag 16th birthday present for me) sitting on my desk (as a joke!  A JOKE!).  And they were like, um, why do you have a picture of Greg* on your desk?!  Isn't he dating so-and-so...?  And I basically mumbled something about "oh, it's just a joke" and then ran out of the apartment in horror praying that it wouldn't get back to Greg (who never even knew I existed) and promising myself to get rid of the picture after the guys left.

So there you have it.  My two most embarrassing moments.  Now it's your turn to share.  

* Name has been changed because of the internets and me not wanting there to be a chance that somebody would do a google search that would lead back to this blog post.  Because that would lead to an unfortunate embarrassing moment of its own.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Julia Rose at 2 Years Old

Rose turned 2, oh, a month and a half ago, and I am just now getting around to blogging about it.  Oops.  But better late than never.

Rose is the feistiest two year old I know.  She has such a zest for life and a fun personality, She can (and does) throw an impressive tantrum when she isn't getting her way but by and large she reserves those for moments when she is overly tired.  Generally she is spunky and sweet.  She loves being tickled and chased, especially when she is in the buff after a bath or when getting dressed in the morning.  And she is so very smart.  She is good at puzzles and loves to be read to.  Rose will bring me book after book and sit for an hour just letting me read her stories.  Her favorites are "Beekle", "Going on a Bear Hunt" and "Where the Wild Things Are".  She doesn't have much patience for coloring but is getting better at it and she is adamant that everything is the color purple (it has to be because Clara tells us at least a couple times each day that purple is her favorite color and Rose has to be just like her big sister).   If you ask her how old she is she will proudly tell you that she is "TWO!".  She also loves naming every member of our family ("mommi, dad-di, rare-rah, and roh!).


We kept Rose's birthday celebration small again this year (second child problems) with just our little family but she had such a great day.  She woke up to her traditional birthday balloons, which Clara helped her gather up and bring out to the front room to enjoy.  After church we did cake to celebrate and Rose loved the candles so much that we just kept relighting them for her and singing to her over and over so she could blow them out again - probably a dozen times.  And she was thrilled.  It was the highlight of her day.  We had chocolate chocolate chip and white chocolate raspberry bundtlets from Nothing Bundt Cakes and it turns out that Rose definitely prefers the chocolate.





After cake, Rose got to open presents which included musical instruments from her sister and a new (to her) strider bicycle that was really just the one we bought for Clara when she was the same age except Paul sanded the purple paint off and refinished it in yellow (Rose's favorite color even if she calls it purple) with red rose decals.  It's so cute and I wish I had a picture of it to post here.


At 2 years old, Rose weighs 34 pounds (98.19% for kids her age) and is 3 feet and 1/2 inch tall (98.71% for kids her age).  She has curly, shoulder length hair with lots of wisps that are filling in her baby hair which provides most of her length.  And she can speak about 50 "words" even if half of them are probably only intelligible by us or in context.  But that is even improving day-by-day and she understands practically everything we say to her.  

Rose has a great imagination and is so good at "play".  She still loves to operate the ice cream stand that the girls got for Christmas, take care of the dolls and stuffed animals, put on dress-up clothes with her sister, pretend that she is a kitty or a baby, or play hide-and-seek.  In the last month or so since Rose turned 2, the girls have suddenly started really and truly playing well together.  Not always, (I wish!), but much more than they ever have before.  Especially in the mornings after breakfast when they are both rested and fed, they will play happily together for a good long while, which has been heaven for me.  








Rose is starting to shows signs that she is about to give up regular afternoon napping, which is slightly terrifying for me.  I was really hoping we could make it through the end of the preschool year before that happened because all fall long we would drop Clara off, then come home and Rose would go down for a 2-hour nap without a peep and often I would even have to wake her to go back and pick-up Clara.  But recently she has started waking up earlier and earlier in the a.m. (like before 6:00 a.m. on a depressingly regular basis) and even just flat-out refuse to go down for a nap, especially on a weekend when she knows that Clara and daddy are home.  But she sleeps great in her toddler bed at night, sharing a room with Clara, which started back in December after our Thailand trip.  And we have brought back the "green clock" that lights up in the morning to let the girls know it is okay to get out of bed and are working to train her to stay put, even if she is awake until at least 6:30.


Rose loves food and is a great little eater but her favorite things include guacamole (probably her favorite food in the world), berries, apples, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cheese (ask her what she wants to eat and this will always be her answer), meat, cookies, ice cream, juice, and eggs.  And she loves, loves, loves to drink.  If we would let her, I think she would consume the vast majority of her calories in liquid form whether it was juice, milk, water, lemonade or whatever.  We start her out with one glass of water or something at a meal and its the first thing so goes for every time.


Rose loves her yellow umbrella that she got for Christmas.  She is constantly taking her shoes off and thinks it is hilarious, especially if I get exasperated about it.  She needs her hair re-done multiple times each day.  She is lightning fast.  But she is also generally obedient and will usually stop or do what I ask her to do, unless what she is doing is tormenting her older sister, then there is nothing to do but separate the two of them because Rose is a professional at pushing Clara's (often ultra-sensitive) buttons.  Rose is such a lover - she gives the BEST hugs and pats on the back and is generous with her kisses (to the point of getting carried away sometimes, lol).  But the cutest thing is how she loves to be snuggled in her toddler bed and will sadly pat at the space next to her head on the pillow and whimper for us to climb in with her.  Whenever I do (which, let's face it is pretty often because how could I resist that?), her arm immediately goes around my neck and tightens in a tight embrace as if to keep me there.




Rose has the cutest surprised face.  She uses it whenever she sees an animal or a plane or the moon or the train.  And then she gesticulates and exclaims until we understand what she is trying to tell us about.





Rose is a constant climber, which is funny because she is also a little scared of heights.  But she is always climbing on the couches or counters or beds or playground equipment and then hollering for rescue when she realizes how high she got.


"Bunny" is still her favorite and he sleeps with her every night along with her purple blanket.


I love that Rose will get a book and read to herself on occasion.



But she does NOT like posing for photographs when mama asks her to model while I practice a new technique or using a particular type of light.



Rose loves to swing and play at Clara's preschool before and after drop-off.  She wishes that she could stay for the entire time and it is honestly sad that she won't get to do preschool next year because of her January birthday because I know she would love it.


Rose loves going for walks and is constantly picking up rocks or dandelions or sticks.  She is desperate to learn how to ride the scooter.  She loves swimming and seems to have a love-hate relationship with gymnastics (she seems to get frustrated or bored after the second repetition of most obstacles and wants to move on to new things).




We just love our little Rosie-girl and can't believe she is 2 years old already!