Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making Dirt

For the first time this year, the household budget does not include a large house project. So we have allowed ourselves a few smaller purchases including a new stove and this:


This is a Jora Compost Tumbler. I first read about these on my favorite gardening blog You Grow Girl. For several years we have maintained a cold compost pile which gave us all sorts of trouble during the summer with fruit flies. We just could never seem to find enough appropriate brown material to make it work, and we never really got that serious about turning it and watering it and all that stuff one is supposed to do on a regular basis to maintain a hot compost pile. Once our CSA share this summer started I just couldn't stand the thought of the scraps going into the trash, and so we went ahead and bought the Jora.

This composter isn't cheap, but it is made of stainless steel and should last many more years than the plastic composters out there. The genius behind this composter is the two chamber system. Right now we are filling the left chamber. When it is full, we will start filling the right chamber. By the time that is full, the left will be fully composted. The chambers are also lined with foam (the one thing I am not thrilled with, but still better than all-plastic composters), which means it is usable all winter long.

The Jora is designed specifically to deal with kitchen waste. It takes very little brown material. We are using saw dust that we get from the carpenter down the street. Some people buy sawdust pellets.

It's been pretty amazing to watch the process at work. The first two weeks there were a few fruit flies. Then things started cooking. Now there are no fruit flies, and every time I open it, steam comes out and I can feel the heat. Best of all, it is nice to know that the scraps from all those lovely CSA vegetables are going to nourish my own garden next year rather than going to a landfill.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

When Stuffed Animals Go Bad

This post contains two stories.

The Killer Rabbit

Alessia has an organic cotton lovey with a bunny head. His head and ears are perfect for teething. Last winter I was rocking Alessia before a nap. She was teething and taking it out on lovey's head and face. At the same, it had been a cold couple of days and Alessia had a split lip. By the time she fell asleep, I couldn't help but notice that this cute little bunny lovey:


Closely resembled a Monty Python killer rabbit, covered in the blood of its victims.


Attack of the Killer Giraffe

Yesterday I put Olivia in her crib so that I could get Alessia ready for her nap. So that Olivia would have something to look at, I propped up Alessia's old giraffe on the side of the crib:


While I was getting Alessia ready, Olivia started to fuss. By the time I put Alessia in the crib, Olivia was screaming. I walked in my room, and there was the giraffe mauling my screaming, flailing baby girl. He had fallen in such a way that he was draped over her neck, face down, going for the jugular. I ran to rescue the poor little girl, laughing all the way.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Red Tractor and Il Trattore Rosso

For about a year now, I've been speaking to Alessia in Italian. I don't manage to do it everyday, but most days we read a few books or play a game or eat our lunch in Italian. She understands quite a few things and says a couple of words and phrase - sporco (dirty) and "non c'e' piu'" (there is no more) are some of her favorites.

Last weekend she received a present from our cousins in Italy, a book in Italian about the farm. Each page has a farm scene and the words in Italian for different objects. Looking at it together I realized that one two-page spread had all of the essential characters of one her other books The Red Tractor. It's a very simple book, and she mostly has it memorized. So I told her the story from the English language book in Italian while pointing to the key characters in the Italian language book. I used the same intonations and the word "splash" (because I don't now the word for that in Italian) as we use with the English language book. The first time I did it, she looked at me funny. I could see the wheels turning in her brain. So I did it a second and a third time. After the third time, she looked at me and said, "no." Then she went to her shelf and brought me The Red Tractor. Too funny.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Doctors, Babies, and Phone Systems, oh my!

For the last two months of my pregnancy, my ears were stuffed up. I thought it was seasonal allergies. My nurse midwife told me I could take Claritin. That didn't work. Before trying another allergy med, I talked to two pharmacists. One told me that allergy meds wouldn't help my ears. Sudafed would help, but given I was pregnant I would need to talk to my doctor. Another pharmacist asked if it could be wax, but since the pressure moved from one ear to the other, I told him that I didn't think that was it. He told me I could try the drops that swimmers use for water in their ears. That didn't work either. In the meantime I was getting closer to my due date and had read that some pregnant women experienced pressure in their ears as part of the general congestion that comes with pregnancy (pregnant women tend to be champion snorers). So I decided to wait and see.

A week after Olivia was born, I called my primary care doctor's office and discussed all this with a nurse. She said it was probably pregnancy related, and if it continued I might need Sudafed, but that could lesson my milk supply, and so I was best off waiting a few weeks to see if it got better on its own. When Olivia was four weeks old, I woke up with no ear pressure or stuffiness whatsoever. Hooray! Three months of compromised hearing (really, I was beginning to feel like one of those old men who refuse to wear a hearing aid) was over. Two weeks later I couldn't hear out of my right ear again. After a week of hoping it would go away I called the doctor's office this morning and made an appointment. Adam works from home on Tuesday, so I made the appointment for noon. He could take a long lunch, feed Alessia, and put her down for a nap. I would take Olivia (who has refused our attempts to offer her a bottle) with me to the appointment.

I sat down to feed Olivia an hour before I needed to go. Of course she decided this was a good time to snooze rather than eat, and so she wasn't really even getting started until a few moments before I had to leave. At the same time, Adam informed me that his phone system at work was imploding, and when I needed to leave, I should just bring Alessia up to him in the studio. Right before it was time to go, I told him that if it was that bad, I could take both girls with me. He told me that no one could get a call through on either the main phone number or the 800 number. So, yes, that's pretty bad. So I bundled both girls into the stroller and off we went. Olivia complained the whole way to the train station, having been interrupted just as she was really starting to eat. I nursed her on the train. At State Street I put her in the stroller. Well, I guess being interrupted twice was just really too much, because by the time we got to the doctor's she was pretty hysterical. I took her out of the stroller while I checked in and paid the copay, and then I carried her, screaming and crying, up to the 6th floor, while pushing the stroller with the other hand.

I got to the waiting room ten minutes early. I knew she was way too upset to nurse, but I figured I had at least ten minutes to get her in a sling and asleep. I set her in the stroller, got out the sling, and heard the assistant call my name. Really? When are they ever running early in a doctor's office? So I wheeled the stroller in, apologizing for having both babes with me. They found a room big enough for me and the stroller. As Olivia was still crying, the assistant asked me if I wanted someone to hold her. I said we would be fine if she gave me a minute to calm her in the sling. As I'm getting Olivia in the sling we made small talk, and I noticed for the first time the heart beat monitor in the assistant's hand. That should be interesting, I thought. Once I got Olivia asleep she held out the monitor and I obediently stuck my finger in it. "Your heart rate is through the roof," the young, obviously childless assistant said to me. "Yeah, the baby is pretty upset. Could we do that at the end?" I replied. She said she would explain to the doctor.

After nine months of prenatal appointments, Alessia had gotten used to being on her feet and sitting on my lap during doctor's appointments. So she started asking to get out of the stroller. It occured to me that while ob/gyn doctors were used to small children accompanying adults during appointments and even seemed to enjoy it, a male, internal medicine doctor would probably not approach the situation the same way. So I amused Alessia with books and crackers (remember my brilliant plan to make the appointment for noon, lunch time?). The assistant must not have told the doctor about Alessia, because he looked surprise to see her when he came in. My assumption about him was right as he proceeded to ignore her completely. She only fussed once, during which the doctor proceeded to talk as if it wasn't happening, and I thought, "I did just tell you I'm having trouble hearing, right?" So I interrupted him to say something to Alessia and hand her a cracker.

Well, it turns out that I can't hear, because I have ears full of ear wax. That's it? I totally could have dealt with this months ago. The doctor explained that they could irrigate my ears today, but it was a wet process and the drops need to sit in my ears for ten minutes. He looked at Olivia while saying all this. I said alright. The assistant came in and explained that the process involved me laying down as the drops sat in for ten minutes, per side. The whole process could take half an hour. She looked at Alessia while saying this. Remember my brilliant plan to make the appointment for lunch time, also known as the pre-nap event? So I made another appointment for next week.

Alessia fell asleep the last five minutes of the trip home, which meant no afternoon nap, and I pushed the stroller with one hand all the way through downtown Boston and Malden as Olivia slept in the sling, so I know have really buff arms.

And that's my courageous story.