Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vacations Are Exhausting!

My parents have a time-share condo at East Canyon Resort east of Salt Lake City, so we go there once or twice each year. As we looked at our schedule and our budget, we realized that East Canyon would be our big family vacation this year, so we made the most of it and extended our usual visit to five days. Looking at the trip as a vacation rather than a weekend away shifted our paradigm and we had a better time than we've ever had there.

We played tennis and mini-golf, went fishing and hiking, watched movies, played board games they have for 24-hour check out, and got in lots and lots of swimming. Actually, I never went swimming, but I got in nine hours of reading and chatting at the poolside while the kids swam. Monday my sister's family and my parents were there, so we went boating most of the day. I was so diligent with the sunblock and reapplication that no one got burned! I also tried wakeboarding and was able to pop right up every time. Someone took a video of me on the water, and I now see how awkward I am on that board, so I won't post that, but enjoy the rest of the photos. (I can't remember how to keep the captions on, but you can turn them on in the bottom left corner to see explanations for the pictures.

Because we were up late playing games or watching movies with my family each night, I came home sleep deprived. Finally last night I got a full night's sleep to help me recover from vacation.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Am Against Nationalized Healthcare

If you are too, click to sign a petition. I checked it out and it is legitimate.

Monday, July 20, 2009

24 Years in the Making

My friend posted some pictures of her wedding day to mark their anniversary today. I've been meaning to post a note about my anniversary date this year, so thanks for the reminder Mindy G.

Kent and I were married on July 3 twelve years ago. This year he wanted to work on his new business website, so we celebrated on the second. We grabbed dinner at Carl's Jr. and saw "The Brothers Bloom" at the dollar theater. Sounds lame, I know. But this year all we both really wanted to do was get out of the house for a little while, and our date-on-the-cheap took us back twelve years ago to living on a shoestring. (On the night Kent proposed, he was wearing his construction work clothes, including jeans with the knees ripped out, and we ate for under $10 at a little dive in Provo. You have to admit, too, that Carl's Jr. six-dollar burgers are pretty great. I hate their advertising, but love their burgers. The movie was fun too. Happy dozen!

On the big day, July 3, my kids and I went boating with my sister's family and my mom. It being a holiday this year, we thought a lot of boaters would be out. But Utah Lake's size usually allows for that to not be a problem. The day was gorgeous and sunny, as evidenced by my sunburn the next several days. The kids had a blast, except when the couch-sized tube got submarined (we were going too slowly) and #5 got dunked. But he eventually got over that.

My first experience trying to water ski was when I was nine. My patient grandpa gave me lots of tries, but the only thing I could "get up" on was the knee board, mostly because you don't have to stand; you just kneel. I had lots of other attempts at water skiing and wake boarding at youth activities and in-law family trips to Lake Powell. But I have never once stood up on the water. The tubes and water weenies were my friends. After my brother-in-law bought a boat a few years ago, he also spent lots of patient coaching sessions with me. Last year, I declared that I was done wasting everyone's time and I would stay exclusively with tubes from now on. July 3 was my chance to stick to my guns. (Have you noticed? I'm using as many cliches as possible this post, just for fun.) Then my mom offered me $20 to get up and stay up for ten seconds. Well, with money on the line, you know I'm not turning that down!

Here are several pictures of how my attempts this year were pretty much identical to my attempts in the past:

And then, miracle of miracles, this was witnessed by ten bored people on the boat:

My mom said I earned the $20, though I think I was up for six seconds max. Funny thing was, I had never concentrated on anything besides not flipping nose-first into the lake, so once I was up for those precious six seconds, I figured I was done and let go of the tow rope. At least I have a goal for doing something else if I ever get up on a wakeboard again!

Photo tip for the day: Taking pictures on a moving boat of a person moving all over the wake is really hard. My sister and her husband of course can pop right up, and I got a few good shots of her. But when he started jumping the wake, I got a lot of shots of water. (Maybe my sister is just a crazy driver.) Here's the best picture I got of him jumping:

That's him in the far right. His wakeboarding skills are pretty good. You'll just have to take my word for it!

P.S. For the record (is that five cliches?), I turned down the prize money. The accomplishment was reward enough!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Great SNL Skits

I don't watch Saturday Night Live anymore because I am always offended by something. Instead, I let my friends refer their favorite skits. Here are two that I find myself sharing a lot, so now all three of you who read my blog can enjoy them too. I found nothing offensive about either one. Please excuse the five-second commercials at the beginning.

This first one I shared with Kent's cousin when she mentioned that in Japan (they live in Tokyo) she buys biodegradable diapers. SNL went one step better.

This last one is my favorite. Kristen Wiig is hilarious!

Monday, July 13, 2009

To Flash or Not To Flash

I am, of course, speaking of photography.

As I experiment a bit with the tips I learned at a digital photography class a few weeks ago, I'll pass on what I learned.

Our instructor had a lot to say about lighting, aperture, and shutter speed. I learned, for example, that ISO does not stand for "Image Stabilizer On", but rather it's "Is the Shutter Open?"...or something like that. ;o) I haven't mastered much with lighting, but I've been practicing with the flash a lot.

We learned about different lighting situations. Harsh light is mid-day with the sun overhead and everything bright. It creates shadows, and is to be avoided. However, you can use a flash outside in harsh light to diminish the non-flattering under-eye shadows. It does tend to flatten features out, but at least you can see them. I had never thought to use a flash with plenty of light, so I'm happy to have learned that tip. Here are two examples:

I hope it's obvious that I didn't use a flash on the left (just the automatic settings) and did use the flash for the picture on the right.

The instructor cautioned against using a flash indoors. He said it makes everything look flat and boring. Rather, you should bring in as much natural light as possible and be near white walls that will reflect the light. If you are working with fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, some cameras have settings to adapt. (I think that's where the ISO setting comes in, but it doesn't have to do with flashes, so I haven't studied much about it yet.) The automatic settings on the camera usually use the flash indoors, but in these examples, you can see the difference.

The picture on the left had the flash on.
I turned it off for the one on the right. It definitely added dimension, but didn't do much to make the food more appetizing.

I have been trying recipes that use broccoli leaves, which are said to have the same nutrients as the crowns. Because I grew broccoli in my garden, I felt bad about just composting the leaves. The crown is really a very small part of the plant. The leaves are bitter, sort of like chard or kale. This recipe called for spices used in Indian cuisine. At first it tasted pretty good. About halfway through my dinner, it started tasting like grass. I thought maybe the temperature had something to do with that, so I reheated my plate...and could barely gag down the next two bites. So I picked out all the tofu, which wasn't ruined too much by the taste, and composted the rest of it. Kent said he liked it well enough and even ate the leftovers for lunch. After this dinner, I pulled my broccoli plants out of the soil and tossed them in the composter. Maybe my other plants will appreciate the nutrients more than I could.

If your kids ever complain about their food, you can pull up this post and threaten to send them to our house. We always welcome dinner guests!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Five scheduled births: Baby #1

My friend Charlotte wrote a series of posts telling about the birth of each of her children, and because birth stories are so varying and interesting, I thought I'd follow suit. It's a good way to celebrate their birth days. Note: I wrote this post on the 10th. On the 11th I found my journal and fixed a few details, but it doesn't change the story much.

Before Kent and I married, I received direction from the Spirit that I should never use artificial birth control, so we were surprised, and a little disappointed, that it took three months to get pregnant. (With my current perspective, I count our blessings that that's all it took. But as a 21-yr-old, I didn't know anyone who had struggled with infertility.) Her due date was to be the day before our first anniversary, and I knew she would be a girl. We wanted to wait to announce the pregnancy until after the 18-week ultrasound, but I inadvertently gave it away by snacking on nothing but saltines and pretzels in a morning religion class that Kent and I took together at BYU. The professor figured it out and drew the class' attention to my morning sickness for us. Fortunately, I only had mild morning sickness and it got to where if I could throw up (is there a nicer way to put it?) once in the morning, I was good to go for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, the daily throw up, which I worked into my morning routine, lasted for seven months.

As July 2 approached, we enrolled in a prenatal class with a local doula who counseled us to write out a birth plan and review it with our doctor. I don't think she was happy that we were going with a doctor because she gave me all sorts of statistics about C-sections, forceps, and circumcision, but I was not willing to have my first birth experience outside of a hospital. She told us not to feel pressured by societal norms, but I felt more pressure from her about what the experience should be like than from anyone else. However, her instructions on relaxation techniques for a natural birth were very helpful, which was good because I wanted to experience everything about this birth. As it turned out, I also got to experience an extra week of pregnancy.

When our anniversary passed and I had to answer "When are you due?" with "Last week", I started getting very anxious to get the baby out of me. Relatives reminded me that pregnancy isn't chronic and she would come when she was ready. The doula told me how horribly painful Pitocin-induced contractions would be. But when my doctor told me the complications of having a baby come too late, I decided to be induced. Kent and I went to the hospital at 6:00 p.m. for the first dose of Prostin, which is used to basically loosen things up in preparation for the Pitocin. The nurse advised me to eat a good dinner because she couldn't give me anything besides ice chips once I was admitted, so we headed to JB's to enjoy our last meal as a married-without-kids couple. After dinner, we stopped by Kent's cousin's apartment to visit his aunt who was in town. I remember standing there being annoyed by the cramps that had started, not even thinking that I hadn't had them for nine months so maybe they weren't just cramps. At midnight we were back at the hospital for the second dose of Prostin and I learned that those "cramps" were contractions that were coming every five minutes. I was in labor and I wouldn't need the Pitocin after all! (The nurse said that Prostin will induce labor in a small percentage of patients.)

Our nurse was great. She got me settled in and explained to Kent, who was keeping everyone entertained with his sense of humor, that when I stopped smiling at his jokes, he should call for her because the baby would be close. It was at that moment that I threw up for the last time of that pregnancy...all over Kent. The doula hadn't told us about THAT, but the nurse said it's actually quite common during labor. I bet she wished she hadn't advised me to eat a big dinner because she ended up cleaning it. I sat in the jacuzzi for about ten minutes, and within a few more minutes I had transitioned and Kent was helping me through all the relaxation and breathing exercises we had learned. They worked really well! I basically knew what to expect and I felt like the pain was manageable. The doctor came in and in an extra long single push our daughter was born in the early hours of July 10. One more push produced the placenta and then I noticed a group of nurses hovering around the baby with an oxygen mask on her face. The doctor thought that because the placenta came out so quickly, it had partially detached while she was being delivered and she was having trouble getting oxygen through her body. But only a minute or two later, she was fine and they handed me the little bundle.

Kent and I remember a great rush of joy flooding over us when we held our little girl. She has been a joy in our family ever since.

A little more about the birth story. One thing our doula hadn't told us, maybe because she never got this treatment at home, is that my nurse would start punching me. She said she was just kneading my belly to get things contracting back to normal size, but it felt and hurt like punches to me. We spent the next day in the hospital trying to get Kassidy to eat, but the poor thing just couldn't stay awake. She had nursed for an hour right after her birth, and I think she was full and tired. My nurse told me to wake the baby every few hours to eat, but rubbing her back and tickling her feet barely made her open her eyes. The lactation specialist came and took off Kassidy's t-shirt and held her up by the armpits while gently scratching her back. I was shocked at the treatment, but she taught me that babies are actually quite tough. Her method worked, and I used it again at home to keep the sleepy girl awake long enough to eat.

Eleven years later, Kassidy is a charming and responsible girl. I have loved watching her grow, and it makes me sad that her childhood is coming to a close as she nears the years of adolescence. It frankly scares me that in eleven more years, if she follows in my footsteps, she could be a mother herself! I look at the pictures of our family back then and wonder what our parents were thinking to let me and Kent get married and have babies at such a young age! I am definitely not the same type of parent I was a decade ago, but it has worked out alright and I love being Kassidy's mother.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Wave

In case you don't re-check all my posts every day, this post will point you back to the one from June 24 if you want to see the belly wave. We recorded it later that day (with her wearing more than just underwear).