Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I had an epiphany a few years ago where I was out at a celebrity party and it suddenly dawned on me that I had yet to meet a celebrity who is as smart and interesting as any of my friends.
- Moby

I too, have really smart and interesting friends. And sometimes, they do cool and interesting things. Like hike the AT!

Something Strange (and then something else strange):
Putt-Putt is cheaper here than in the lower 48. This might be the ONLY thing that's cheaper. Also, there is a plane in the trees, and a moose, wolf, and bear on the course. Oh Alaska, how I love you. (the bear is not in this shot. You can see a bit of his brown arm on the left)

If you pay these people money to stand in their freezer, they will give you a certificate proclaiming you to be a real Alaskan. The freezer is said to be 40 below zero. If I wait until Mother Nature gives me this experience for free, I will have no certificate and will have to provide my own parka.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Something Strange each day.

If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.
- John A. Wheeler


I think I may try to photograph something strange each day. Or maybe just several per week, every day seems like such a commitment. We'll see how it goes.

At least that'll keep me getting out of the house. I have a tendency to become a hermit on days I work.

Today's strange:
I'm going to clean!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why I'm not giving birth in a hospital

Let's tackle the hard one first. The United States has the worst maternal mortality and infant mortality of any industrialized country of our size. Don't believe me? Check out The World Health Organization's website. There you can search the mortality rates of every country providing records for every year records are available. There is a LOT of data, but you can select what information you're interested in and whittle it down to a usable set. Or, you can watch Birth By the Numbers. It's available as a bonus feature on the disc of the movie Orgasmic Birth. (Orgasmic Birth is not as much about sexual pleasure during birth as the title might imply. It is more about being open to a range of birth experiences the way we're open to a range of experiences when running a marathon.) Birth By the Numbers is the best laid out, easiest to follow demonstration and explanation of the mortality data that I've ever seen. Other explanations can be found in Business of Being Born and Pregnant in America (both available on Netflix). I won't list any reading material available on the internet at this time because I haven't had a chance to research any of the websites that I've seen and we all know how reliable information on the internet can be.

My own summary sounds like this: When a country's C-Section rate is higher than approximately 15% the frequency with which mothers and babies die also rises. The United States currently has a C-Section rate of approximately 30%. Mothers who birth in a hospital are encouraged to consider a C-Section after a very short period of allowing labor to progress (usually around 12 hours) even though women regularly and healthily have babies after much longer labors. Even worse, rates of C-Sections rise dramatically over the course of the day. A hospital will perform many more sections around 4pm and 10pm than at other times of the day. I am extremely skeptical that there could be a medical reason for this. Many other risks accompany C-sections including infection, scarring, fertility issues, hemorrhaging, etc. While c-sections are sometimes a life-saving emergency surgery, this country has begun using this procedure as a convenient way to be done with pregnancy, labor, and birth.

Having reached my third trimester, I am beginning to understand the frustration that accompanies the end of the pregnancy. I understand wanting to be done waiting, done with the physical discomforts, and the anxious excitement about meeting the little one. But no frustration or excitement is enticing me to consider a risky surgery (that should be used for EMERGENCIES ONLY) that could adversely affect my child's health or my own.

Another safety issue with giving birth in a hospital are the drugs. Various painkillers, antibiotics, labor 'enhancers' and other chemicals are routinely offered to women in labor and are frequently mandatory and require great effort to avoid. Repeatedly, babies have been tested within a few minutes of birth and researchers have found the medications given to the mother during labor present in the blood of the infant. The drugs from your epidural DO transfer to your child. Children of mothers who received an epidural show neurological differences from children who born without drugs for as long as 3 months. I am not suggesting that the differences are great, or even noticeable to someone as untrained as myself, but I do trust that researchers looking at the motor skills of infants know what they are looking at and for. Especially when that research has been peer-reviewed, retested, and validated. Those methods are the reason we call the rules surrounding gravity scientific laws. These are not guesses, they are not theories. Many women are able to give birth in a hospital and avoid a c-section, and even avoid painkillers, but avoiding the rest of the arsenal of drugs used by medical professionals is much harder. Doctors routinely try to aid labor by introducing drugs like pitocin, cervadil, and cytotec. All of those drugs pose serious risks to both the mother and child that are not adequately explained to women before they are administered. Cytotec, for example (explained thoroughly in Pregnant in America) is an ulcer medication that has never been tested on pregnant women. The warning label explicitly and repeatedly states that this particular product is NOT intended for use in pregnant or laboring women. But it is effective, and cheap, and so doctors and hospitals still use it routinely. Even for women who are able to avoid a c-section, refuse painkillers, and avoid these labor 'aides', declining other drugs is difficult, and often involves fighting hospital policy. That is not an easy task while in labor.

We've covered convient but dangerous surgery and misused and misunderstood medications. What about sanitary concerns? I would love to believe that hospitals are the gleaming, sterile place that we all imagine, but that is simply untrue. So many people with so many illness in such a compact space will always breed germs and disease. If you don't believe me I invite you into any pre-school or kindergarten classroom to watch the teachers, aides and janitors disinfect everything they can as often as they can and still have 2-3 kids out sick every day during flu season. I have never seen a cleaning staff in a hospital clean that thoroughly or that frequently, even when I've stayed overnight. There is simply too much to do.

Emotional safety is a concern for me as well. Doctors and medical staff are people very accustomed to being in a position of power and authority. While I do not hesitate to call a doctor or nurse when I have a medical question and need answers, I do remember that they are all human. Humans make mistakes, humans learn things incorrectly, and humans enjoy power. Just this week the American Medical Association was scheduled to vote on whether or not they should begin labeling patients as 'non-compliant'. Such inherantly subjective terminology is asking to be abused. I myself have refused medical treatment on several occasions because after discussing my options I truly believed I was doing what was in the best interest of my health and my life. To be labeled as non-compliant could jeapordize my future health care and could add another layer of frustration to an already complicated insurance climate in this country. Additionally, we have been raised to trust our doctors as authority figures and in our moments of intense emotion and physical exertion we are much more vulnerable to listen passively and do as we're told. I do NOT want to look back on this birth and wish I'd been able to stick up for myself. Or wonder if it could have gone differently, more safely, with fewer interventions.

Over and over and over studies have shown that homebirth or birth in a birthing center is a safe alternative to hospital birth. The only time this is not true is when a hospital or medical backup is not available such as the Alaskan bush. Studies since the 1970's have shown that birth with a trained birth attendant is as safe or even safer than hospital birth as long as medical intervention is available. Homebirthing women regularly pre-register at a hospital and discuss potential red flags with their midwives before going into labor, and agree upon what conditions will necessitate a transfer. Within a hospital, doctors strive to maintian a 30 minute 'decision to incision' time. This means that no more than 30 minutes should elapse from when the decision to section a woman is made to the moment it begins. The birth center in Denver (Mountain Midwifery) reports a transfer time (measured from when the decision to transfer a mother to the hospital is made to the time she is checked in at the hospital) of 8 minutes. Other birth centers report similar successes. Midwives have established relationsihps with hospitals and staff, and are able to call ahead to explain the situation to a trusted collegue as the woman is being transferred to the emergency room. This means that as the woman comes in to the hospital where she has pre-registered, the doctors and nurses are already aware of her current situation, have been able to review her medical history (if provided by the patient ahead of time), and this facilitates a quick decision and swift action. Many midwives even have relationships with ambulance companies to call should an emergency arise to avoid calling 911 and being responded to by a truck full of firemen or K-9 police unit. Both have a valid place in serving our community, but neither is ideal for an emergency birth.

While not something I generally venerate, tradition has a valuable place in our society. As I enter into motherhood, I look forward to an experience shared by women all over the world and from every generation and time. I don't want to recreate environments where as many as 1 in 3 women die in childbirth, but I look forward to full experiencing this life changing event in the simplist, most natural way possible. The way God built me to experience childbirth. To paraphaphrase Ina Mae Gaskin: "God is not a careless mechanic. I am not a machine, nor a defective model. I am not a lemon." My God did not make me defective. And until I have evidence to the contrary, I will not doubt His creation or intentions. I am prepared in case labor does not go the way I expect, and I have faith that my God will be with me every moment.

For the pure and simple comfort of delivering at home, and then being tucked into my own bed to get to know my family. Or at the birth center, for the low lights, warm water in the tub, and quiet intimacy of people I know well helping me to give life and connect with my child.

Over and over again I've talked to women who have given birth and used drugs and they talk about the most intense pain they've ever felt. When I talk to women who have prepared for natural childbirth (really prepared, not just followed orders blindly) and then executed it, they talk about birth being the most empowering experience of their lives. Women who've given birth naturally even describe it as being a physically pleasurable experience. They speak of it the way marathon runners speak of feeling so physically high at the end of a run.

When it comes down to picking a path for my own birth, it's a pretty easy choice. I want to be with those who've never felt more aware of their bodies, closer to their God(s), and empowered in their choices.


Ultimately, I'm doing it for the safety and best interest of my child, my family, and myself. I trust my God, I trust the body He's given me, and I trust childbirth as He's designed it to be. I know it will be hard and that's ok. He will be with me, I will not be alone. He's given me an incredible husband and a skilled team of midwives who've attended thousands of births. I am getting ready to change my life, and I am not afraid.

I'll add resources as I find them or want to.

Someone else's opinion. She links to on of the studies I mentioned.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh drama

I'm damned if I do, I'm damned if I don't.

This is what I get for trying to live with integrity and boundaries. A skepticism that keeps one eyebrow permanently arched. I think it'll be ok. I'm going to have faith in the decision, because I have to.

On the boring front:
We're turning in our notice at this little place and campus housing promised to call if we can get in any sooner at the new place. We've got dinner plans tonight a jumping little bean that just wont quit. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One day down, 64 more to go

Hormone Induced Emotional Breakdown #2 was yesterday. I was very ready to be done being pregnant.

Great day with my husband was today. I am perfectly happy to keep baking her for a little while longer. Especially since she's not nearly as ready to come out as I am to have her out.

Things we MUST get before she comes:

High priority:
glider rocker with footstool
new apartment

Everything else is just gravy. I really don't want to get the rocking chair until after we move because there is zero space in this place, and we found out last night that we'll be moving on August 1st. (Very exciting.)

Diapers are mostly taken care of. I have figured out what we want and where we want to get them, we just need to pick them up. Someone has actually offered to buy a bunch for us as a 'welcome baby' gift (which is AWESOME and super generous), and I've discovered that Ebay is full of ridiculously cute diaper covers that will adorn my little Nanook's behind.

The carseat search has begun. I've made a list of the carseats that are available in stock in Fairbanks, and started researching to be sure none of them have recalls. After that I just have to pick one. No biggie.

Once we get moved in to the new place all I'll be doing is decorating baby's room/space and buying the stuff I just love and want. Very fun. For now, I'm just checking and double checking to be sure we really have what we need. The weird thing is, there are a million different things that are said to be needed, but when it really comes down to it, a baby needs food, diapers, and a carseat.

We still need to figure out if we want to give her a whole room right away or use it for an office. I'm thinking office. She's not going to sleep in her own room anyway, but hubby and I will both be working on our computers a lot. So having a work space might be more essential that we realize. And since she'll be sleeping with us for an indefinite period of time, it seems weird to set up a whole room when we have no idea when she'll use it. So I think our bedroom will have our bed, a dresser, and her crib in there. Maybe that's a bit much? I bet our dresser would fit well in the closet. We really liked that system in Denver. All the clothes in the closet, all the time.

Late night posting = rambling about nonsense
Someday I'll think about big kid things again. Politics, religion, our purpose in life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Faulkner - Sanctuary

At some point I really need to learn to read a book at the pace it was meant to be read. Faulkner is not interested in creating a 30 minute drama. So, for the second time, I have finished something by Faulkner knowing that I missed all the good stuff, and that it's going to bug me until I go back and read it again, slowly.

The last time it was a short story. Reading it again only took a day or two. Maybe as I keep reading older, more involved texts I'll learn to slow down and take the book as it comes. I'm really excited about Thoreau, maybe I'll respect that work a bit more.

I'm like a child sometimes. I just fly through it trying to finish first. I want to get to the end and see how it all turned out but when I get there I realize I missed the whole story. I heard someone say something about reading the last page of a book first, so that if he/she died before he/she finished the book, he/she would already know how it ended. (I'm pretty sure this was a character on a TV show or movie or something) That may not be a bad idea for me. Maybe I'll read the last page to calm my anxiousness and then read the story.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I could so make this


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Midnight Sun Festival

Fairbanks is adorable. The largest one day event in the state was fun. And small. But sweet. Almost like the People's Fair but with much more ado and much less to do. I got a fantastic frozen banana. The protein, serotonin boost, and fruit serving make me a good mama. Buying one for my hubby makes me a good wife. Finishing his because he didn't like it makes me a responsible consumer (or something).

Tonight we're going to the Midnight Sun Baseball game, which I thought was yesterday. I'm excited to take our seats and enjoy the 104th playing of a baseball game through the midnight hour, outside, with no artificial lights. Apparently this game has NEVER been canceled due to lack of light.

Bit of trivia for you: Fairbanks does not have a 'longest day of the year'. For three days every June the sun neither rises nor sets so those three days are all 24 hours long.

Alaskans apparently really love to party and enjoy these three days. Last night was the Midnight Sun Fun Run (which we missed due to exhaustion!) and people were in great costumes and loving life. I still find it hilarious that the state that produced Sarah Palin also celebrates the solstice with such vigor, but I'm coming to realize it's all a part of Alaska. People are intensely (almost aggressively) independent. They vote how they want to, and 'because we have guns' their representatives vote according to the will of the masses as well.

Someone told me before I moved up here that part of Fairbanks' charm is that everyone here loves and wants to be here. It's a town you really either love or hate and if you hate it, you leave. So everyone here really wants to be here and really enjoys it. That makes this place a lot of fun. I agree. People are genuinely glad to be here, and genuinely glad to share their favorite place with you. People are welcoming and warm and chatty and I feel wonderfully at home here. I'm almost sad to thing of us having to leave in 3 years. Already!

Searching for Symbolism:
This morning the church we tried appeared to be not happening today. It was supposed to take place on the state fairgrounds, but we didn't see anyone around that part of the fairgrounds and the rest of the grounds were being used by a horse show (!!!) so we're thinking maybe church was canceled this week. On our defeated drive home we decided to see when the service was at the LCMS church and it was starting in a few minutes so we went to that service instead. We walk in and are greeted by some really warm people who chatted with us (like so many Alaskans do) and as we got ready to go into the sanctuary Mirus sees someone he knows. Yeah, right. Sure you do. Maybe it's someone you've seen at work. No, no, I know her from a long time ago. OK dear. We go over near her (ostensibly to get coffee) and overhear her mention Colorado Springs. She spots my hubby, and drops her conversation to give him a big hug. Turns out, she was good friends with his family when they were kids. The LCMS world is a very, very small world indeed.
Her name is the same as a wonderful friend of ours in Denver. Her blonde haired oldest son has the same name as our friend's blonde haired oldest son. The church was called Zion, and I have always found God in Zion National Park. These are probably cheesy coincidences, but sometimes those turn out to be big flags to which I should have paid attention.
People were really friendly, there were lots of people 'like us', and I liked the pastor who taught. Like most churches, the sermon seemed watered down in comparison to L2, but I've acutally never seen a church that studied as in-depth as L2 does, at least not in the main sermon. This church would be really easy to plug into, and we would be able to walk there, it's really just down the street.

But we haven't had much luck with LCMS churches viewing their mission the way we view the mission of the church. Denominational (and nondenominational-attractional) churches in general tend to believe their mission is centerered around getting people INto the church and and keeping them there. We wholeheartedly believe that a church's purpose is to send people OUT to be Christ in the world. Yes, community is important, and fellowship, and spending time in the Word and with others, but all of those are meant to SUPPORT your mission to the rest of your life, not supplant it. It can also be intensely frustrating for me to feel that everyone in the church assumes a certain view point. That sort of stagnant belief (spiritually, socially, and politcally) is so infuriating. Voting Republican because that's what 'good Christians' do is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. Or more than that, it's wrong. It's not just annoying, it's actually wrong. And denominational churches (read: LCMS churches) tend to breed that sort of stagnancy.

Maybe it's worth another try. Mirus and I will have to chat.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Chocolate and Butterscotch - Yum!

I subbed cake flour for all purpose (add 1Tbsp per cup) and honey for brown sugar (1 for 1). Didn't have enough honey, so I ended up doing half honey and half white sugar with the intent of adding a little more liquid. I don't recommend using that much honey. Hubby likes the taste, I think it's odd to have honey flavored cookies. Whatev. They're supposed to last longer this way. Maybe if I had 'better' honey?

Friday, June 19, 2009

At 30 weeks, I am a tired mama.

30 weeks on the nose. She should be about 3 pounds, and roughly 16 inches. Sometimes, she feels like a giant. I love her.

We watched Slumdog Millionaire tonight. I had to keep reminding Mirus that she is safely tucked away, and that no harm can befall her. Certainly not any harm of the kind seen in the movie. She's safe. And with a daddy so loving, she'll be safe when she comes out too.

Tomorrow is the Midnight Sun Festival and the 104th midnight baseball game. In 104 years of playing baseball at midnight, no artificial light has ever been used, and the game has never been called off for lack of light. This is one crazy place we're living in!

Contemplating Social Rules

Is cursing in public still taboo? I realize we're not in a toy store or a specifically child oriented place, but doesn't an afternoon in a coffee shop call for a certain level of decorum? Maybe I'm a prude. Or maybe it's not prudish to expect that some words are simply more appropriate in a different context. Not yelled across a quiet coffee shop. Though, to the offender's credit, it is hard to sufficiently impress all those around you with your bohemian-ness without dropping a few F-bombs. How can you adequately express your contempt for society without the word fuck?

The closer I get to being a parent, the more strictly I'm judging parents around me. Finding faults in a tired, frustrated mom with a toddler is not something I should be spending my time on. Especially when I should be working. Like now. Hm.
Well, let's see.

Nanook is still measuring ahead, healthy, and in all possible ways: good. She did turn breech before our appointment yesterday, but I'm pretty sure she's moved back already. She rolls around quite a bit in there and I'm actually surprised that she had been head down for as many appointment as she has.

My parents are still behaving pretty wretchedly and I don't currently have the interest or patience to deal with them. I feel a bit sorry for the pastor who is trying to mediate, I wonder if he has any idea what he's gotten himself into. It's his job I suppose, but it's also an unending source of immature drama. I felt bad knowing that Mirus would be dragged into it, and I feel bad dragging someone else into it. Apparently there's a fishing trip today. I suppose we'll see if anything good results from that.

I have a few things to take care of today, the list never quite seems to end. Mirus's list seems to always be done, but I think that has to do with his insistence on actually doing the things on the list. Silly husband.

I still don't know about Faulkner. I've reached the point reading Sanctuary that I feel like I have to finish it because I read a certain amount of it. But I think Faulkner is not for me. Next is Thoreau (which I still insist is a good boy's name) and/or Hemmingway. Reading is fun.

The Midnight Sun Festival and Baseball game is this weekend. I'm pretty excited about all the festivities.

Not a bad life I'd say.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our Crib!

So my in-laws bought us a crib and mattress for our baby shower. The plan was to wait until we got settled in Fairbanks, then buy the crib and have it shipped to the store up here, which Wal-Mart supposedly does for free. Except that they're mean, and don't offer that service to Alaska, which we only found out once we got up here. Shipping the crib that my family had picked would cost $180.

So my family offered to just send the money, and we would pick something up locally. Wal-Mart had three models in stock, all made of particle board. I was a little nervous that once Nanook got bigger and started pulling herself up, she would shake the rails (as babies do) and shake the screws right out of that cheap particle board.

By chance Mirus and I noticed a baby store that was small, and was only open a few hours per day. When I stopped in, they had the most BEAUTIFUL cribs! And only one was under $450 dollars (including shipping). It seemed a little silly to spend nearly twice the amount of money on a crib as we had spent furnishing our entire apartment in Denver.

Since we'd been up here I have been checking Craigslist everyday, just looking at all the baby stuff, and hadn't seen any furniture for any sort of reasonable price. Then yesterday, I saw this! It's perfect! It's the right color to match the silly little shelves we'd gotten in Denver for the baby's room/space, it's a style I like, and it converts to a toddler bed, day bed, then twin bed. The changer/dresser even turns into a night stand when you don't need the changer anymore.

This is our beautiful crib. Sorry it's backlit, once we move to our new place I'll take better pictures with all the sheets and blankets and pretty things. We weren't going to keep the mattress, but then we realized that all baby mattresses are plastic. We could just wipe it down with a good disinfectant or cleanser and it would be as a good as new.

The changer has a little pad that came with it, but it's pretty flimsy. I'll just get some foam at the craft store and make a slipcover to go over it. I'm pretty sure I can stitch a plastic cover to go right over the foam and have something with a little more substance that's still easy to wipe down.

I could put shelves in here, but I think I'll use the space for a hamper instead. There's gonna be a lot of dirty diapers to go into the wash!

There's even a full drawer that goes under the crib. I haven't put it together yet, but I think it'll be a nice place to store all the beautiful blankets Nanook has accumulated. The only downside is that we can't sidecar the crib like we had hoped. Well, we could, but we couldn't use the drawer and the changer as well. I suppose we could sidecar it without using those things for a while, and when she's sleeping through the night we could set it up on against the wall opposite our bed.

We hadn't really come up with a plan for co-sleeping. We know we want to for a while, but we aren't interested in co-sleeping for years, but we want to make sure Nanook gets what she needs as well. We had planned on sort of just playing it by ear. I'm not sure that only co-sleeping until she sleeps through the night would be long enough. Even if she's still in the room, she's not with us. But this crib is too beautiful to go unused for long!

It feels so, so good to have the crib and changer. Like this is really happening!

New Crib

Something smells vaguely like wet dog, and I think it might be my 'new' crib. My only crib options from stores here were either too cheap to be stable/reliable or too expensive to talk Mirus into, so I had my hopes and prayers up for a garage sale win. Then, today, a whole bunch of cribs cropped up on Craigslist. I found one I loved, bought it, brought it home, cleaned it, and now something smells. It's pretty faint, and I only get the occasional whif, but it wasn't in our apartment before we brought home the crib, and the only other source of strange new smells lately is me, and I think I'm clean.


Also, I might be missing one non-essential part.

This is one of those great cribs that goes from regular crib to toddler bed to day bed to twin bed, and it comes with the changer/dresser combo that also transitions to a nightstand. It's even the right color to match some shelves we got. It will go beautifully with all the green, and I'm pretty excited. I think Nanook will have a great place to sleep and keep her things.

All in all, it was a good day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This is why we're poor:

Mirus and I spent the morning making phone calls to people who insist that we owe them money. Here is a summary of the phone calls.

Birth Center: They forgot to bill me for a urine sample, they sent the bill, I got it yesterday. It's due tomorrow. I called to let them know the check is coming, because I actually do owe them. A whopping $15. No biggie.

OB/GYN: These geniuses apparently keep no record of the statements they send out (yeah right) so the person handling my account has no idea what my bill says or why it says what I say it does. Fantastic. This is a bill from JANUARY. Why is it not settled? Because everytime I call them, I'm told that this person is going to do something, and that I should wait at least 30 days before calling back. Then, they send me a bill with a late fee. Today's fun involved the employee telling me that the last time we spoke, I was going to call the insurance company and find out that she should bill my claim under my maiden name. I asked how she knew what I was going to find out if I hadn't yet made the call? She explained that she just typed into the notes what I said. Me:"Sure, OK. Well, why don't you try billing the claim under my maiden name." Her:"OK, I'll do that now. . . bitch."

The Lab: Somehow I'm getting bills from a lab and the OB/GYN for the same visit, in the exact same amount. Only one of these was ever submitted to the insurance company (I think). I think that this one has since been taken care of, but I'm skeptical that it is even a valid claim. At this point I don't care, I just wish someone would answer the phone so I could find out if it's been handled.

Insurance Company: They are a train wreck. I have not yet had a phone call with them that went well. I usually start with: "I'm going to warn you that I'm pregnant, hungry, and very upset. I want to resolve this issue TODAY and if you don't have the authority to do that, I'd like to be transferred to someone who can." Invariably I am transferred to a manager before they have even asked for my name. Perfect. Today no one answered. 3 minutes into the call no one had answered. This is not the first time this has happened. They apparently changed my name back to my maiden name (um, what??). So none of my bills are being covered because they're being submitted under my married name. Trouble is, when I call the insurance company they have no record of anything being submitted for me. So they never know what's going on, because they are idiots.

Comcast: When we cancelled our service, the person on the phone told Mirus that we owned the modem and didn't need to return it. As this was not our first dealing with them, we were skeptical and Mirus asked THREE times if the person was SURE we didn't need to return it. The employee emphatically replied that it was ours and we could do with it as we wished, our account was fully closed and we should have a good trip and a safe move. Now, they insist we owe them for the modem and WILL NOT transfer Mirus to a manager when he calls. They tell him to wait for an employee to call him, which they never do. Bah.

T-Mobile: They have no service in AK, so although I've always had great service with them and gotten excellent customer service we had to cancel our account before we moved. To avoid cancellation fees, I called to find out what they needed from me. They gave me a fax number (which I 'safely' packed away and have yet to find) and told me to send a copy of a utility bill at our new address. I explained that it would be several weeks before we moved, found a place, set up our utilities, and recieved a bill. The employee said that was common and shouldn't be a problem. The day we moved into our apt I had a stroke of genius. We had to open our account in person, so I asked the electric company employee to print something with my name and new address and the electric company's name on it. She gave me a copy of something or other, and when I called TMobile to get the fax number again, they had changed their system. I now have to mail it to New Mexico. It took 10 days for our car payment to get to Texas from Denver. It could take months for this letter to get from Alaska to New Mexico! In the meantime, they automatically deducted cancellation fees for both phones (though it was one contract) and we're just sitting pretty waiting for our reimbursement of that nearly $500 trouble.

Old Landlords: We haven't yet called them because we have misplaced their number. This is what a 3500 mile move will get you: lost. I may have to call my new landlord and get the phone number for my old landlord from our application. Lame. We had the cost of the mailbox key deducted from our depost (which we finally got! yay!). Sometime between the building being built in the twenties and now the mailbox lock broke, and in the intervening 80 years the key has been lost. I wasn't even aware there were keys and thought it vaguely odd that the mailboxes had locks for which no one seemed to have keys. I'm not paying for the key that may or may not have been lost before I was born. Anyway, that's only $10.

The list goes on and on. Most of this stuff I just didn't see coming. We had prepared to have a baby, saved money, found out exactly what our health insurance covered and didn't, and I even changed jobs because I found one that gave me greater flexibility to stay home before and after the birth. We did what we were supposed to.

Then the car was totalled, our insurance company went crazy, and people in billing departments everywhere lost their damn minds. And somehow, our savings was reduced to pennies.

Well, not quite pennies. But certainly not what it once was. And since we have to wait several extra weeks to get any of the reimbursements in the mail, we can't spend the money we do have because we may need it for food. Going from two full time jobs to one part time job while adjusting to a 9% cost of living increase is not easy. Mirus now has a part time job, and the fruits of that labor should start showing up this weekend. And then, with any luck, we can start taking care of the things we need to, like buying a car seat and figuring out what we're going to owe the midwife.

Until then, I'm applying for every government program I can find. This pregnant mama is hungry, and groceries are expensive. I've been paying taxes on my income since I was 14 and it's about damn time I see what I've earned.

Incidentally, I received a letter from the Social Security Administration explaining that I have nearly enough work credits to retire. Should I tell them that it's probably a mistake, or just see how many years it takes for them to catch it??

Sunday, June 14, 2009


We started browsing carseats today. We wanted to avoid buying one off the internet and shipping it, because shipping costs to AK are outrageous and I'd always wonder if it was damaged somehow during shipping. So we went to the local big box store and made a list of carseats available on the shelves. One model had something like 4 recalls on it, some of which seriously compromise the safety and some of which have actually resulted in deaths.

Um, not cool!

I guess I don't know why I expected the retailer to keep up with the recalls, but it would be nice to think that maybe they TRIED to be responsible.

Who knew picking a carseat would be so complicated?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm getting bigger by the minute. Aaron actually mentioned today that I look more pregnant than I did yesterday. I wish the skin on my stomach could stretch a little faster, because right now everything is pushing up into my ribs and down near my hips and it hurts!

This Thursday is another prenatal appointment. It's strange to think that we're already at that point, but here we are. I had been waiting to do all of the birth prep stuff until after we got to Alaska and got settled, and now I'm not sure what I need to do! It's like I've forgotten everything that needs to get done. I know I need to buy a birth kit, but our midwives have those so that's easy. I need to find out exactly what's in there, but I'll probably add a few chux pads, a sitz bath, lots of extra towels. . . We also need to pick up the Bradley book. We wanted to take a class, but couldn't fit it in while we were in CO and no one teaches it here. I guess we'll have to study on our own. We need to pick up the crib and mattress, buy a carseat, pick up diapers (which are being sponsored by two of the most amazing people ever! And they were amazing before they bought us diapers, this just adds to their glow.), and after that we have everything we NEED. There are several things I would like, but nothing essential.

For some reason, being able to hear my neighbor's TV is making me really long for the History Channel. When we move on campus cable is included in the rent. I'm excited about that. It's funny though to feel excited about TV. I can't remember the last time we had anything more than just the local channels, and I've never cared, why do I suddenly want cable so badly? Maybe it's because I'm working from home and it's always so quiet.

Baby carrots up here are gross. I think they're frozen before or during being shipped up here. Yuck. Hopefully the farmer's market will start having some produce soon.

This would be a cool job. I wonder if you get paid by both your employer and these people?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Seriously. How cute! And with little lambs sitting in the bed and dangling from the mobile! I had begun to think that buying a sewing machine was a waste of money, since we've been able to get so much for so cheap, but now I don't know. This stuff is just so cute. And each set is between $140 and $300. I'm certainly not paying that. I *could* just buy a used set of crib stuff that has some dumb pattern that I don't even like, but that seems like such a tragedy.

I think I need to sit down with Mirus tonight and come up with a budget. We'll figure out what we've already spent, what we expect to need to spend, and settle on what I'm allowed to spend. It's a good thing I'm a better salesman/negotiator than he is! (at least, I hope I am . . .)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
- Henry David Thoreau

I haven't read much by Thoreau, but all the quotes I've ever seen are GOOD. Maybe he'll be next. Right now I've decided to give Faulkner one last shot. If Sanctuary isn't amazing, he's crossed off my list forever.

At any rate, after reading this quote I feel quite vain indeed writing when I haven't even put pants on today. Does looking out the window while I work count as standing up to live??

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Best Thrift Store Day Ever!


Fairbanks is really a pretty small town, so we have 1 Salvation Army and 1 Value Village. After living in Denver for a few years (with a LOT more thrift stores) I was a little disappointed in the thrift store selection here. . . until today.

My Treasures:

And we even found a sewing machine REALLY on sale at JoAnn. Then, the "dollar-fifty" store was having a half off sale! So we got laundry hampers and some cleaning stuff for $2.25. PLUS, the baby/kids consignment store has a used carseat for $30! It has a recall on it (though nothing to do with the restraint system, and there have been no deaths associated with the problem) so we're going to research it before we buy. THEN, Sears (where my DH just got hired - and an employee discount) had a great stroller and great bouncy seat on sale for GREAT prices.

The sun is shining, I've got new books from the library, we just put a frozen pizza in the oven, and I have a new remedy for heartburn that is working out pretty well. I don't know what I did to get on God's good side, but I'm sending y'all all the good vibes I can! Good luck on your own adventures!!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another pregnancy?

One thing I was very, VERY clear about before Mirus and I got married was that I was willing to be pregnant ONCE, and then we would reconvene to decide how we would build or family after that. I really wanted to try being pregnant, but saw no reason to commit to it multiple times if I was just going to be miserable. I've always loved the idea of adoption, and even if I enjoyed being pregnant I wanted to adopt as well.

In the first trimester, it didn't look like there was any chance of ever doing the pregnancy thing again. I wasn't all that miserable, but it was consistent enough to be completely annoying. I was too exhausted to be productive, not hungry, and constantly bothered by the thought of food. Fast food commercials would send me running for the bathroom every time. It just wasn't fun.

The second trimester was better, I enjoyed being able to get things done and food tasted better during this trimester than it has ever in my life tasted. Food was incredible! Plus, I wanted sex almost more than Mirus did, and all the physical changes made sex even better than it was before I was pregnant. Life was just so damn good. Although, now that I look at what I just wrote, I see that my life revolved around food and sex. Just like a guy. Maybe this is how men live their whole lives! I think I got ripped off. . .

I'm just beginning the third trimester, but I'm beginning to feel some of its hallmarks already. It's harder to move around, and getting up and down is really difficult. I'm starting to feel hot all the time (which is NOT my favorite) and swollen feet are painful (which I didn't anticipate). Still, everytime Nanook moves, the rest of my world just stops. I am constantly looking at my belly and grinning. She's incredible. And she's in there! Moving around and growing and getting stronger.

Somehow, that seems to make up for all the discomfort. All the trouble and irritation. I don't know if ever I want to be pregnant again, but I love carrying her. I love this time together, and I love having her so near me. It's hard to imagine being pregnant with anyone else. So I don't really know how we'll make a decision on that. I suppose we have lots of time.

Today's agenda:
  • Value Village (thrift store) for baby stuff
  • Dollar-Fifty store (hopefully as exciting as Dollar Tree)
  • Some hiking somewhere. Maybe Chena Hot Springs? Maybe near the glacier where people in dry cabins get their water?
  • Nutella-banana paninis for lunch. (I can't believe Mirus let me count this as a meal! He must really love me!)

Monday, June 8, 2009

First normal working day

Mirus worked today. Away from me all day! I worked at home. All day. It was weird, and a little boring. I'd forgotten how much less fun work is when you're not going in with someone you love, talking to awesome people, then leaving with someone you love. Maybe it'll be different when Nanook is around, but this just feels like boring old work.

Actually, I didn't even leave the house today. Blech.

Tomorrow we've got big plans. Big plans. It's our weekend!

For the record: dinner last night was BLT with a side of ham, cream cheese, and pickles, followed by banana bread with frosting. Lunch today was more ham, cream cheese, and pickles. I spent most of the day with my pants hiked up to keep them off Nanook's head, and my shirt tucked up under sweaty, floppy, swollen preggo boobs. Bring on the stereotype.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

First day of Garage Sales

My shoes fit at the beginning of the day. By the 'end' (around 3pm) I had swollen right out of my shoes. There's a band-aid on top to cover a blister (I keep them with me) and one on the back of each heel. Ah, swollen pregnant feet.

People in Fairbanks take their garage sales seriously. SERIOUSLY. Apparently, most garage sales run from Friday to Saturday (not Saturday to Sunday) and people show up early, really early, to take all the good baby stuff. Next week, I'm going to try working early Friday morning, hitting all the garage sales on my lunch, then working Friday night and Saturday morning (because Saturday morning is unavoidable) and then going to any Saturday only sales after work.

I don't want to let those other ladies take home my stuff!

We tried another church today. This one reminded me a lot of the church I went to in Lansing. A lot. Of course, it wasn't what Mirus wanted. Unfortunately, he and I tend to want very different things, at least when it comes to style. When it comes to substance, we tend to like very similar, very hard to find things. I suppose I've just assumed that we may not be able to find a church that teaches as deeply as L2 did/does. Someone once described their sermons as a weekly kick in the gut. I rather enjoy that. I like being pushed into really evaluated what I'm doing, and being boldly, unapologetically told that my best has NOT been good enough, and that I am absolutely called to do better today and tomorrow. I like the responsibility that the pastor placed on each of us, and I liked that I couldn't really hide from it. Maybe all pastors try to do that, but somehow he always succeeded.
I think he would explain it this way: He used to do church whether God showed up or not. He realized the problem involved and ended up completely revamping the entire church. Now, every service depends entirely on God.
I think it shows. I know when I'm there that God is working on me, on us. And I expect no less from any church I attend, though it's obvious (now that I'm paying attention) that God is working on different things in different churches. I would like to find a church working on what I want to work on, with a little divine intervention I'll find a church working on the things I need to be working on. With a little luck, I'll recognize it when I see it.

'Till then, I'll just download the podcasts from L2 and enjoy them vicariously. Maybe I'll put them on my Ipod so I can listen to them while I browse the garage sales!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

1001 rules for my unborn son

1001 rules for my unborn son

the bible as a magazine

The Book: The Bible Illuminated

This is basically the new testament (there's an old testament one too) in a glossy magazine format. Pictures of celebrities (Angelina Jolie, Mohammad Ali, etc) are used to illustrate biblical principles, because a survey in Sweden found that many people believe these celebrities have done good things for mankind.

So, this could be good because it's good to be forced out of your box once in a while when it comes to the bible. It's easy to memorize a verse with a certain tone and read it that exact same way over and over again without ever seeing how it can be reapplied to your life. And it's good to be culturally relevant. Obviously, Jesus was a big fan of that.

But celebrities? As chosen by some random survey?

I feel a little compelled to buy it so I can read the thing and figure out how I feel about it.

It seems like it would be marketed toward a very specific demographic. A demographic that generally responds passionately to vaguely superficial (they feel superficial to me anyway) overtones of cultural relevance but that passion tends to fall away quickly (leading to my feeling that it's all a bit superficial). People may be sincerely trying to reach out, but they do NOT take the time to understand the people to whom they are reaching, and that leaves a disconnect that doesn't help anybody.

The longer I ponder this, the more I'm on the 'in favor' side of indifference, but not by much. And interesting idea, and one that may connect with a few people, but that is unlikely to have a real or significant impact on society. Then again, that's a very lofty standard. But when we're talking about the Bible, shouldn't the goals be lofty?

I get the impression the guy who came up with this idea might be doing this only for money, but I'm ok with that. As long as the words of the book aren't changed, I don't think the motivation of the publishers can have near the impact on this text as they might on another. That could just be naive of me, but it's hard for me to imagine the motivation of an individual overriding the intention of God. Then again, I see people using scriptures to hurt others all the time. (stupid politics) So, maybe I was wrong, maybe his motivations are important. I have no real evidence for my random impression of what he may or may not be trying to do, and I'll admit that a cultural difference often impedes the ability to divine the intentions of another. So, I hope I'm wrong.

I heard of this on The Colbert Report, which I love. I'm always entertained there, and that's what the show is meant to be: entertainment. (anyone who watches Comedy Central looking for objective news reporting is an idiot. This includes Bill O'Reilly.) I'd like to see a 'real' interview with this guy, to learn more about him and about what he was trying to do with this book.

I think I'm going to end up buying it. It's almost too strange not to have it.

A Recap

I think I'm coming down with a cold. No bueno.

Got up very, very early to work this morning and was so tired I could cry. I was uncomfortable and tired and, for some unexplained reason, upset about the whole situation. So I asked Mirus to write for me and slept for 20 minutes. And it was perfect. I woke up, finished off my day and felt better. I still think I'm getting sick, but the day was at least bearable.

So then the hubby gets home from his first paid day of work and we decide to go out to dinner.

Today, I learned that I am too pregnant to safely pumice my feet in the shower. I didn't get hurt or anything, but it was certainly not one of my more graceful moments.

Speaking of pregnant, yesterday I was fascinated by my tight skin where I had a piercing, today I have a little stretch mark there. Those things come in FAST! So after my shower I oiled up with as much Vitamin E as I could stand and now I'm doing my best to just keep my stomach from splitting in half. Gotta keep her locked up in there for a little while longer.

She, however, may be trying to bust out. I'm not sure, but she does the strangest things. She is a small, small person with a limited range of motion and developmental limitations completely contained within my own person and I have no idea what she's doing. Possibly trying to run or bike, or maybe she's forcefully petting/stroking the inside of my uterus. Occasionally it feels as if she's petting something ribbed. What could be ribbed or bumpy? The placenta?? Briefly I considered bubbles of some sort, but she has no access to air. Her oxygen comes straight from me. Then, sometimes her movements are so very rhythmic. The movements I'm talking about are too distinct and too directional to be hiccups, but they're rhythmic and pounding. Maybe she's tap dancing, slowly and baby style? Maybe she's drumming along to her own little beat? She does seem to like music, and she responds both when I sing and when Mirus sings. The last unexplained movement feels just like when she has the hiccups, but SUPER FAST. They're drum rolls. I'm pretty sure of it.

I would like to crochet something like this for the baby to sleep in:

I think I'd do the opening along the bottom, with a flap that comes up and buttons. Maybe one day I'll have to skill to do sleeves, but I think I'll start without. It should be relatively simple. Start with a rectangle (that turns into the flap) then make a large circle (the bottom of the sleeper) and work my way up. When I get to the waist maybe I'll go back to working on just the side (maybe the front) and then when I have a square done (the front panel), I'll switch and work on the back. That one I'll make a square with flaps that come over the shoulders and button to the front. That sounds completely doable, though I'll need to track down some good yarn that I can work and re-work several times without it falling apart.

I bet I could make this pattern into a pretty cute present for my mama friends!

Belly Button

I had two navel piercings for a while. The normal one that goes through the top, and a surface piercing that went horizontally under my belly button. The surface piercing never healed correctly (as they never do) so I took it out after just a few weeks or months. The regular piercing I had for a few years, and eventually took it out when my AmeriCorps BDU's rubbed it and drove me crazy.

Over the last few days, I've noticed a tightness in the skin at the top of my belly button. The top of my belly button, right where my piercing used to be, is super tight! It's stretched to the point of being shiny. I'm assuming the scar tissue just isn't stretching the way the rest of my skin is, but that simple explanation doesn't make it feel any less weird.

To add to the whole deal, as my belly is growing out and my button is getting shallower, I've noticed the hole that used to be inside my button is now facing frontward on top of it. Weird. It's like measurable evidence of my progress and growth.

I always knew belly buttons were weird, but I never knew how weird they could get!

Friday, June 5, 2009


Now that I can feel Nanook so clearly, I'm beginning to worry about crushing her. When I sit up straight, I can feel my old gym shorts push up against my abdomen, right where I know her head is! And when I lean forward, I can feel her back push against my ribs. That can't feel good for her either. The intelligent part of me knows that she's fine, and she's completely safe in there, but that doesn't stop me from feeling bad about squishing her.

In addition to being irrational, I am not nearly the employee I once was. A few minor computer gliches and I've completely abandoned any feeling of responsibility towards the work that needs to be done. I suppose I could stop typing this and start typing that instead. . .

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I don't want to lose these recipes, and my recipe boxes on foodnetwork.com and kraftfoods.com are getting too full to find anything quickly.

Vegetarian Reubens
Just skip the russian dressing and use Thousand Island. Also, we don't do the whole broiler thing, we just make the sandwiches in a saucepan and heat/toast everything in the pan!

Turkey Chili
Kind of a lot of work, but it does only take 30 minutes and it's FANTASTIC! Careful with the peppers though.

Queso Dip
Uses Mexican beer, and then you have 5 and a half bottles left to drink with your chips and cheese!

Turkey Nachos
So yummy! We don't layer and bake them in the oven, just put them on our chips right out of the pan.

Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Go ahead, splurge and buy the good crackers. This dip is worth it. And it comes out of the oven all warm and gooey and fantastic.

Dinnertime Quesadillas

Easy Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Sandwiches

Toasted Tuna Melts
So good over a campfire.

Tuna Cakes
Also good over a campfire.

Weeknight Lasagna Toss
The peppers add a kind of sweetness.

28 week visit

This was my last visit on the monthly schedule. After this I go in every two weeks. I'm really in my third trimester, no matter how surreal it sounds.

Today she was measuring about a week ahead, heartbeat in the 140's and she's positioned head down, with her back coming up along my right side, bottom under my left ribs, legs down toward her face. Everything still looks great, and my weight gain has slowed. This midwife said she didn't care if my numbers had been larger before as long as I was eating well. I'm a big fan of that philosophy. I feel healthy, I think I'm eating pretty well, and you can see in the video that I'm still wearing my pre-preggo jeans. So it's hard to feel guilty or bad about gaining weight.

The midwives here are great. Everyone we spoke to at the birth center was really wonderful and nice. One of the midwives even mentioned arranging some meetings with a few other mothers to make sure that we had adequate social and emotional support for after birth. She said that especially after a move it's important to avoid feeling isolated, so she wanted to make sure we didn't reach that point. Fairbanks people are the best!

And now I should get to working.

making stuff for Nanook

I'm ordering my sewing machine today. In honor of this momentous occasion, I'm making a list of things I want to make before this kid gets here.

Nursing Cover:I love this cover, but it can't be hard to make. It isn't very expensive and it has free shipping to Alaska, but seriously. It's a square, with piping around the edges. I suppose the boning in the top might give me some trouble, but if I just figure out where it goes, I can run a seam on either side to hold it in place. The strap could be tricky, but I'm sure I can figure something out.

Sheets: Wouldn't I just cut squares out of the corners, sew each corner together, then run a hem all around? I can just tuck the elastic in the hem (I think). That's the fitted sheet, and the flat sheet should just be an easy hem all the way around.

Moby Wrap: I just need to buy 5 - 5.5 yards of jersey or cotton gauze (I don't even know what cotton gauze is) and cut it lengthwise if it's too long. The whole point of a Moby is its simplicity, so the most I might have to do is hem the edges. Can do.

Covers for gear: I think the only thing I can do here is trial and error. I'm going to make covers for a bouncy seat, a swing, and whatever other pieces of gear I end up with. It would be fun to have stuff that all matched, but I refuse to pay to buy them new. Fabric is pretty cheap, and I'm pretty smart, so I'll give the covers a try.

Diaper Bag: I actually think I have a bag that will work beautifully as a diaper bag, but I see no reason not to try making a really great bag too. I mean seriously, what else am I doing with my summer?

my first late night in Fairbanks

So, I'm going to count this as dark. It's not dark yet, but it's the closest I'm going to see until after the summer solstice comes and goes.

Thanks to being preggo, I was exhausted by lunchtime and had to take a nap. I slept soundly for FOUR HOURS. So, now, I'm wide awake with my ankles propped up and hopefully draining with a fan blowing on me trying to enjoy the 'night'. For the longest time, Nanook was jumping and hopping and kicking and my belly was moving so much I'm not sure I could have slept even if I was tired.

Fairbanks might have the all time highest concentration of nice people of any city I've ever been to. Everyone we meet is just wonderful. It's almost strange. Maybe I lived in a 'big city' for too long, but I really am surprised that even the weirdos are really very nice. Maybe I just haven't met enough people here.

Also, it turns out the reason we couldn't find produce at the farmer's market is that the growing season has only just begun. Nothing will be in yet for weeks. That's disappointing. I was really looking forward to super-fresh veggies all summer. And since produce is EXPENSIVE up here, the discount for buying directly from the growers would have been a nice perk too. I suppose I can wait.

It's getting harder and harder to wait for Nanook though. I'm so excited to meet her. I'm excited to see my Mirus as a dad, and I'm excited to be a mom. I've spoken to other women in the same position and they're getting antsy too. I suppose it's just part of the process. Still, knowing that it's 'normal' doesn't make me any less impatient. It's hot, I'm tired, I'm bored of waiting and being pregnant, and I want to meet my child. The restlessness combined with an ever-decreasing motility is going to make for an interesting summer.

The big kicks are back, she must have woken up. Figures, as I'm finally settling down enough to go to bed.

We have our first prenatal appointment in Fairbanks tomorrow. I don't have a lot of time to pick a new care provider if we don't like the midwives, so I'm really, REALLY hoping that hubby and I like everyone there. So far, they seem great, and they come very highly recommended from everyone I could find on the internet who's birthed with them.

I'm not interested in birthing in a hospital. No thank you. I want to be at home, and when I'm done, I want to focus on nothing more than curling up in MY bed and getting to know my new family. Not wondering if we got everything packed up, not worrying about the carseat being buckled in right, not flinching everytime we see another car on the road. I just want to curl up with my husband and daughter and enjoy our first few hours together. And as long as birthing in hospitals is linked with higher rates of intervention, I'm not going in unneccessarily. There are lots of good statistical reasons why home births and births with midwives are safer for both mother and baby, but tonight, I only want to think about the soft fuzzy stuff. Curling up with my daughter.

I can't wait to hear her heartbeat tomorrow. That is still so beautiful.

to begin. . .

I'm not sure about this blog. I'm quite attached to my livejournal. I've had it going now for several years and there's a lot of history logged in there. But there are certain features I've come to believe I need, and they just aren't available there.

So maybe I'll switch, maybe I won't. But after much consideration, I've decided that it can't hurt to try!

I'm not doing an intro, or catching this up to date. Want to know the back story? Check out dislocator3972.livejournal.com.