Monday, December 31, 2007

Why 2 kids are better than 1

This was going on for about 45 minutes while I was making dinner the other night. Sorry for my terrible video skills.

It's a new camera.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The best laid plans of mice and men

Here is the doll that I spent several weeks making for Penelope's main Christmas present. I know she's not perfect, with her extremely weak chin (in her case, I really don't believe it's indicative of a character flaw though). And her body is made of the softest most squishable cotton velour stuffed with organic wool. She has a lovely feel to her.

The day before we celebrated (we exchanged gifts on the 24th since I was working the day of the 25th) we took the kids to the Forum Diner which is a divey kind of place that Al takes the kis about twice a month. He and Diego are friendly with one of the waitresses there whose name is Pepper (I know, truth is better than fiction sometimes). Anyway, she is so kind, she had Christmas presents for the kids. Big ones actually. Diego got a truck that has flashing lights and sirens and carries about 20 matchbox cars. And Penelope got this doll. Now, I must back up for a moment and say that, because of my line of work, I have witnessed quite a few women in the throes of enchantment with a brand new baby. Usually they hold the baby lightly and stare with wonder at it's face, maybe reaching with a finger to gently trace it's features, then unwrapping it slightly to inspect each delicate finger or toe. When I say that Penelope went through this process, I am not exagerating in the least. And when I say that this is the most horrible doll I have ever seen, I am not exagerating about that either. The skin is a clammy-feeling vinyl. The clothing is a polyester that makes your skin crawl. And the body is actually inflated with air so it has a weird pillowy feel. And it has a strong vanilla scent--like a candle.

When I saw how much she loved this doll, I knew that the prospects for an attachment to the homemade doll were poor. But even I couldn't have predicted how strongly she rejected the doll I made her. She dropped it. She hit it. She would clutch her vinyl doll protectively to her chest while pushing away the green doll. Because I am a grown up, and because I actually enjoy sewing dolls, I was able to tolerate this rejection. But it really weas pretty sad.
Christmas was much better than last year (of course anything that didn't involve Penelope crying for 5 straight hours would have been an improvement), but I still don't quite feel as though we have figured out what our family traditions will be.
Anyway here is Diego opening his "big" present, which was a great scooter from Uncle Jason and Aunt Jessica.
He loves it!
More soon.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Apparently someone (Penelope!) gave our fancy new camera a bonk and so it can't focus at certain distances. So I brought it back to the wonderful family-owned shop where I bought it (Chestnut Hill Camera Shop) and they sent the lens back to Nikon. So, it will get fixed and it will be covered under the warranty, but now in this incredibly scenic time of year, I have no camera and therefore no pictures to show you.

So a question instead: does anyone know how to make a link appear on the blog without actually typing out the whole url? (Kevin, I know you know how to do this because I've seen it on your blog). If I could do this, I could improve this blog tremendously!

I had an unexpected week off from work (just 4 hours in the office in the middle of a week of no call). It was so GREAT and has cemented my desire to try to cut back to 24 hours of work per week. Then I went back this week and my last night (of 3 in a row) was one of those nights where I got report on the SIX labor patients who were all confusingly similar (about 4 cms along, GBS positive, ugly strip) and just kind of stood there at a loss and finally said to the nurses "What room should I go into first and what should I do?" So much for my triage skills. Anyway, it quickly progressed (deteriorated?) into a situation where I felt that I was running from one disaster to the next. At 2:30 in the morning, the doc and I looked at each other and she said "Well the board is clear," and I said (with the whites of my eyes still showing, I'm sure), "But at what cost?" She's new too (even newer than me as she is just out of her residency). Anyway, I kind of fell into my bed and lay there twitching for about an hour before I could sleep. I kept thinking of the effects of adrenaline on the immune system and how long term, chronic exposure to adrenaline is quite to the human organism and how way back when I decided I wanted to be a midwife this was not really my vision of how my life would be. Somehow more tye-dye and friendship and belief in birth and less abject terror and fewer std's and less adrenaline.

So, this weekend I'm going to work on handmades for the holidays, Christmas cookies and hanging a pretty quilt in my dining room. I am also going to try to conquer my fear of the post office and get some packages mailed finally (sorry Christine).

Also, blogworthy news: I'm going to be an a Niece! (Gosh that word looks weird--is that how it's really spelled?). I'm going to solicit name suggestions for the benefit of my brother and sister-in law (who haven't asked for help), just because I'm excited. So please feel free to post your girl Schwarz name in the comments section.

Off to take my beasts (the canine ones) for a romp.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

After the bird

Thanksgiving really is my favorite holiday. I think it is 2-fold. Firstly, although the holiday in meaning is really about gratitude, in practice, it is really about eating. Which (of course) pleases me. Plus there's the old-fashoined element to it--pilgrims etc. Secondly, because it is a harvest festival it doesn't carry any weird religious conflict or ambivalence for someone like me who grew up in a non-religious/2-religions household. There's no conflict about gratitude.

So Thanksgiving was fabulous, as it usually is, year after year. My mom excels at the sort of cooking that is traditional for Thanksgiving, and we had a wonderful group of friends and family at the table this year. Diego watched a little more TV over the weekend than I would prefer, but with no other kids his age (after Minky's grandaughter Amelia left on Friday morning) and pretty chilly weather, I was willing to give in a little (for the sake of a little peace).

Unfortunately, no pictures. My camera needs a repair, but this is where working nights becomes a real drag: either I have to stay up until 10 am to drop it off after work, or I have to go in to work at about 3:30 (prime napping time). So there has been a slight delay in getting it fixed, but it will happen.

I have to work tonight, but hopefully today we will be able to get some house projects done including relocating 2 bookcases back into the sunroom (from whence they came) and putting away the clothes from the beach.

Renewed talk at work about the possibility of the department closing. I can't help myself from scanning the website in search of other places/options.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Penelope has croup! That's what we get for a 'well-baby' visit. When I called the doctor about her crazy high fevers and barking cough, she said 1/3 of her pediatric patients have croup. Well geez, now you tell me.

Diego has been having some issues with a boy in his class "Amar." He tells me "Amar said I'm slow when I'm eating" and "Amar says I can never work with him again." It seems like Diego really like Amar and continues to pursue hanging out with him even though Amar gives him a hard time. This pains me and I have been tempted to go slit the child's throat, but instead have been trying to help him find 'appropriate' ways of coping. He had obviously been thinking about it because yesterday he said "Mom, if Amar tells me I'm slow, I'm going to say "I'm tired of this 'slow' stuff!" I told him that sounded good. But if it doesn't work, tell Amar to come and see me...

Diego told me Penelope is a 'stoling monster' because she always 'stoles my toys'.

He has been taking flute lessons for 2 weeks now. Part of his practicing involves singing "Where is thunbkin" to strengthen his fingers. Yesterday he stood in front of me singing it at top volume, and the 2nd-to-last line was "How are you this morning? Very well my fank you." Got it? Very well my fank you?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Unexpected Sunday

Boy and his (neurotic and bizarre) dog. Just ask Nora whether looks count or not.
A quiet night at work has left me with an unexpectedly unscheduled Sunday. I hardly know what to do with myself. It has finally gotten cold here, so our usual walk to Clark Park with the dogs will probably need to involve some coffee/hot chocolate at the Green Line Cafe.
I've been enjoying a new cookbook called "The Sneaky Chef" which involves pureeing veggies in various combinations and adding them to 'kid friendly' foods like macraroni and cheese or french toast. It actually seems to be working, although Diego did reject the turkey meatballs that had spinach and brocolli in them on the grounds that they were green. I found them pretty tasty though. I may attempt the 'white puree' today as well as some of the healthy chocolate chip cookies (involving wheat germ and a lot of pureed almonds. Apparently Jessica Seinfeld has a similar book, but she's actually being sued by the author of this cookbook for plagerism. So I have the original.

Penelope and Diego had a checkup yesterday. All seems to be fine--even though Penelope hadn't been in for a well-baby visit since April. Apparently she is supposed to be in every 2 months. Al and I were gently reprimanded by our lovely doctor.

Halloween was fun.

The rare 2-tailed dragon.
The dragon and his friends.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fall fun

We went to the NY sheep and wool festival and visited with Marisa and with Eric's alpacas. I've been sewing a lot, including the baby pants featured above (I love JoAnn's fabrics for fun corduroy).

It finally feels like fall here, but too late for me to salvage Halloween. I kept putting off Halloween crafts, waiting for it to be cold, and now I've got three uncarved pumpkins on my kitchen counter and a brand new (unused) pumkin carving kit.
The pictures above are all jumbled up, but also include Sarah and David's fabulous party in celebration of their marriage (NOT a wedding, as David kept reminding me) an apple pie I made, and a visit with Penelope's best friend Rosie.
Al is requesting that I assist with the kitchen clean-up, so no more time to post--it really is hard to find a moment!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I have been away from the blog for so long! I've been reading a lot of other blogs, which is taking up the time I would usually be writing. Plus I've been unhappy with the camera and not excited to post pictures, etc.
Anyway, lots of doings around here. Penelope turned one. We had a pool party in our back alley (who says you can't hav?e it all in the city... As the picture shows, it was freaking hot! But both sets of grandparents came down which caused us all to realize that they hadn't seen each other since our wedding!

Diego started his new school--Monetssori, which he seems to really enjoy. When I ask him what he did at school, he says stuff like "I did pouring work today" and then he will describe in great detail (first you get the tray and carry it very carefully with 2 hands) what pouring work entails. I'm really glad he's there rather than at the Waldorf school, which was the other option that tempted me a lot.

More news: I turned 30. We spent a week out at the beach.

I've been sewing more. I made each kid a pair of flannel lined corduroys and have a pair of corduroy overalls in process for Penelope. I've been finishing up some old quilt tops and have been contemplating buying more fabric (gasp) for bumpers and a quilt for Penelop's cage (I mean crib) where she now sleeps at least part of every night (see to understand why I'm so obsessed.

I'll be in NYC for Sarah and David's marriage celebration party (not sure what else to call it for a post-elopement celebration) and am hoping to have a chance to get down to Purl in Soho to visit with some of the fabrics in person.

I'll post some pictures of the stuff I've been working on when we get our new camera. In the meantime, some pix of the kids to keep folks happy...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Last week I went to a meeting of folks who are interested in opening a birth center in West Philadelphia. This is a fabulous idea. Here's why I think so. There are no free-standing birth centers in Philadelphia and no home birth practices in the city run by nurse-midwives. The prenatal care offerings are pretty slim around here too, if you want to see a midwife. The moms in the playground seem evenly split in getting their care at the Bryn Mawr birth center, 5 Penn Tower and Pennsylvania Hospital. There is also a smaller, but still sizeable home birth contingent.

At the meeting, it became clear that the whole idea is still in the conceptual stage with very few concrete issues decided. Here are some questions that I have come up with in thinking about it since.

1) how many births per month does a birth center need to do to be profitable?
The answer to this is probably more complicated than just a simple number. I imagine that it depends a lot on the patient population and their insurance coverage. Medicaid reimburses fairly well for births, but medicaid HMO's are terrible. But I imagine if you serve primarily a low-income population, then you would be eligible for grants etc.
2) Would a birth center in the immediate neighborhood (with very close proximity to HUP for emergency transport) attract primarily a low-income or middle class patient population? Which would be more desireable in terms of the needs of the community and preferences of the planners and clinicians who would ultimately be working there? Could it serve both? I feel confident that a good proportion of the middle class white playground moms that I know would go to a birth center. Others, not so sure. There are a lot of African immigrants in the neighborhood--would they like a birth center or do they like to be in the hospital? Ditto with the African-Americans and Asian immigrants in the neighborhood.

I have (of course) already found the perfect location. It is Rosenberg Hall on the USP campus. It is actually smack in the middle of Clark Park, has parking next to it and is handicapped accessible. Plus, it's spitting distance to the tot lot.

That leads to question #3 which is: how do you get an institution like USP to give/sell you a building.
Which leads to question #4 which is where does one get money for a project like this?

Sarah said that Diego looked like a teen idol i nthe wedding pictures, so I just had to post this one too--the most teen-idolish of them all.

Diego has been using the word "absolutely" a lot--as in "This is absolutely too hot for me to eat." It works.

Penelope continues to ignore the pressures of trying to meet any major developmental milestones. Instead she just sits and waves. It seems to be enough for her...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

House Bill 1255 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollow

Oh beautiful day! This can't be Philly in July--it's about 72 degrees with a breeze and no humidity. Tonight the Philadelphia Orchestra is playing in the bowl in Clark Park (gentrification anyone?). But it's free, so how elitest can it be, really. We'll be picnicing with our friends from the neighborhood (Sylvia--one of the best cooks I know), her husband Michael (who is eccentric but as excellent taste in imported wines) and their daughter Alessandra who is Diego's age. Al and I will be bringing a sheet to sit on and the pleasure of our company.

Yesterday Penelope and I got up early and walked to Penn to witness a historic bill signing that will at last give midwives in PA prescriptive authority. Here is Tony Soprano signing the bill:

Just kidding, he just looks like Tony Soprano. It's actually Ed Rendell, the governor of PA.

Behind him are the states reps from various counties who worked on the bill. The dean of the School of Nursing who is Egyptian and the most fabulously put-together looking woman is beside him. Her name is Afaf. Isn't that great. Anyway, it was a very exciting thing to see as PA is the last state in the country to allow cnm prescriptive privileges and so many people have been working on this for so long. Funally. The medical association with their turf wars and their expensive lobbyists lost to a bunch of nurses! Hah!

So that's the big news here. Because this is supposed to be a crafty blog, I'm posting some pictures of finished objects: 2 pairs of socks. Both are knit with Lorna's Laces. The blue pair is from Nancy Bush's excellent book "Knitting Vintage Socks." I probably picked the ugliest and most boring pair of socks in the whole book. Don't ask me why. The pink pair is from yarn that I first saw on the Harlot's yarn crawl in NYC. Some significant portion of the monaey for the yarn goes to breast cancer research. I didn't buy it on the crawl (told myself I had enough sock yarn...hah!) but then craved and coveted so much that I made my dad go back to the store and get it for me. He actually got me 4 skeins, so I have 2 and a half left! The pattern is the Jaywalker Socks from MagKnit which was a total internet craze last winter. Now that I've knit the socks, I'm not sure that I get what all the fuss was about. But that won't stop me from embarking on another internet-fueled knitting project: the Rogue pullover (google it if you're curious, since I don't know how to post links...)

And look what just arrived special delivery:

It is a good day.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Well, my brother is married. Sniff. His wedding and mine were about as different as he and I are. His was fun. I posted some pictures below so the folks at work could see how my dress turned out (sorry, but they had to hear about my preparations for weeks, so they wanted pictures). I'll post some of everyone else soon enough.

It's good to be home again. It always seems as though it takes a few weeks to get completely unpacked from a big trip like that. Probably because I spend most of my time checking my email, reading and various blogs and reacquainting myself with all my fabric. Plus having to go to work cuts in to my free time. It's a problem. I have had a run of really nice births at work lately. I had to scrub in on a c/s the last night I was there, and I realized it has been ages since I'd been in the o.r. Lots of nice vag deliveries lately.

I just spoke to Christine and poor Silas has coxsackie.

It's 10:30 here and I'm taking a break from watching Law & Order SVU and knitting on my Jaywalker Socks to make buttered noodles. I did already eat dinner (in case you were wondering). If Al were home he would probably have tried to stop me, but he's at a movie. So buttered noodles it is. With parm and fresh ground pepper. MMMmmmm

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A few thoughts for father's day

Father's day weekend here and lovely weather. I haven't posted any pictures in a long time and Penelope has enough hair to braid! Also many beautiful dresses (and why shouldn't she?). Above is a picture of us at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival with a little Waldorf doll that I got her there. She loves him. She shows that she loves him by crowing when she sees him and pulling his hair out with her teeth. She can't be left alone with him.

Penelope and I are recently returned from Minnesota where Penelope attended her first birth (well her 2nd I guess)--we went to be with my amazing friend Talisyn and were lucky enough to be there for the birth. It was great to catch up with Christine and Silas too. We spent 4 days cooking and cleaning for Tal and wrangling the 2 babies. Tal was totally wonderful in labor--really focused and calm and incredibly tolerant of all the chaos around her. When we arrived at the hospital Christine and I couldn't help but laughing thinking of what the staff (ourselves included) at Chestnut Hill would have done if a patient's support folks had arrived as we did: picture the actively laboring woman, her mother and husband, 2 midwife friends, 3 pillows, 2 babies, 2 diaper bags, 2 shopping bags of food, 1 stroller, 2 Ergo's, 1 sling, 1 rolling suitacase, 1 bag of baby toys and a comforter. We were a ridiculous site to see. But whatever they might have been thinking, they were too nice (Minnesota, you know) to be anything but pleasant and welcoming.
Beautiful Zibby Esme.
I said recently--as I often do--how much easier everything was before we had kids. When I think about things that used to stress me out, I want to laugh. Traffic? Exams? Spending time with my in-laws? Holidays? Ha. Take away the kids and any of those things seems like a walk in the park. Really. The person I said this to said, "and you want to have more?" Which, of course, I do. I don't think I ever appreciated a single thing in my life before the kids were born. Not a single thing. Now I appreciate everything--the time with them, and the wonderful time alone (all the more wonderful for being so rare).

Ahem. Queer much? No one has ever called Al metrosexual, so I think he must get it from his Uncle Jason.

Is it wrong to spend a moment complaining about my children's wonderful father on father's day weekend? Better that I should get it off my chest, no?

Al is great at some of the staying home stuff. He's good with the kids ( of course that's the main thing). He's easy-going which I am not (news flash!) and in my new world view, that is almost the most important characteristic a parent can have. Being patient and easy going will take you far when you spend your whole day with irrational short people. But (as is typical for men, I believe) he doesn't do any of the following things:

make dentist/doctor's appointments for the kids
plan meals
plan anything
sort and store baby clothes
hang laundry out so it smells nice
read parenting books (not even one)
sort and organize kid toys
clean the kitchen at night so it's nice in the morning when you come downstairs

Okay, so it's a pretty short list. That was pretty much the extent of my home-making when I was the stay at home parent. I didn't even do the laundry--I just hung it out when the weather was nice. But it's really hard to fit that stuff in on my schedule. When I have only one or 2 days off in a row, all I can manage is the every day house stuff--food for that very moment, clean underwear for today, taking out the trash, walking the dogs, etc. I never feel able to take on bigger projects.

I think we need another wife.

Our awesome (childless) friends are watching the kids tomorrow so we can go out for a fancy brunch. They all think it's funny that our idea of a good father's day (mother's day too) is to go out without the kids. Oh we love them an all. But it's really hard to butter good french bread and drink cup after cup of strong, piping hot coffee with a wriggly baby on your lap. And let's not even get started on reading the paper...