Wednesday, August 26, 2009

health care (yikes)

I am hesitant to say anything about this, since politics on personal blogs seems sort of like tupperware/makeup "parties" where you invite everyone over to "hang out" and then once they're all sitting in your living room you jump up, slam the door, and pull out your order forms and merchandise.

But I'm going to anyway, I guess, because I think sometimes I can let the strictures of being polite, combined with my naturally super introverted nature, get me off the hook from doing the good, moral, or kind thing.

So I want to take the opportunity to say thank you to the people of California, whose generosity in funding healthcare for their most vulnerable citizens meant that Wren and I had it when we needed it. When Chase and I moved to L.A. for Fuller, Chase was going to school and working part time and we were both looking desperately for full time work that would get us insured.

I would wake up in the mornings, in our 300 sq. ft. studio, throw up, get dressed, and walk to the library, where I would comb job sites, send out my resume to everyone I could think of, and then ask Dr. Google about all the things that could go wrong in the first three months of pregnancy.

I don't even remember how we found out about the free Medi-Cal clinic in Pasadena. I remember how nervous I was, going the first time. I remember the competent nurses, who reminded me so much of my veteran social worker mom in their dry professionalism. I remember that I met the doctor once, after 8 months, and he was nice, but not necessarily better than the nurses.

When Chase did start working full time, when we did get insurance, the doctor's office changed, but the standard of care did not.

My Anabaptist heart says "Gov'ment Shcmuvment" (My Anabaptist heart is apparently a hick). So would I rather a church community had stepped in, to be the gospel for us, when we were in need? Of course. The church should be Christ on earth, his hands, healing the least. And our churches were wonderful- praying for us, bringing us meals when Wren was born, and commiserating during the pregnancy about how hard it was to find jobs and health care.

But (please keep in mind, my husband is the seminarian NOT ME) it seems to me that God makes tools out of any damn thing he wants to. And I am tempted to speculate that in our case, the state of California was of use. Without it, when I went to the emergency room, terrified, at 5 months, we'd have been thousands of dollars in debt. Instead we received wonderful, immediate care, and paid a copay. Without it, I'd have had no check ups, no hectoring nurses checking my vitamin intake and my pee samples, no flu vaccines or TB tests, or STI screenings. I'd have gone back to the emergency room when I went into labor, and either we'd still be paying that off, or we'd be bankrupt.

So when people denigrate these programs, I feel like even if I don't want to engage in politics, I have to at least say thank you. Thank you for WIC-- for buying me milk, and cheese and peanut butter and orange juice, when I was a nursing mom and couldn't afford it. Thank you for all the vaccinations and blood draws you paid for, for the genetic counseling and the nutritionists and the gross sugar soda diabetes test, and every single thing that indicated we were valued and our health was important and you were investing in us.

In short, thank God for California. Or the California of 2005 anyway. I hear things are somewhat different these days.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Janey the Birthday Girl

Sunday was Jane's birthday, and although her big party is going to be next weekend, we wanted to have a family party on the actual day.

So we had Jane's favorite food (beans and rice) on Grandma's special china, with the super "fancy" tablecloth (which regularly doubles as the princess veil, during dress up games).

We had chocolate pound cake, because she asked for chocolate cake, and I can usually be counted on to have some cocoa powder in the house, even if we have absolutely nothing else. I really really need to go to the store.

Janey opened presents from her Nana and her granny Alley, including...

Ah! It's Pinky Pie the Pony! She is pretty excited about that. The picture doesn't really capture the "openitopenitopenit" dance she was doing right then. We gave her our presents too- the dress I made her, which she cries when she sees, the birthday crown, which she wore for about 5 seconds, and the school bag Wren and I made for her, which was just plain ignored once the pink tissue paper was off of it. I'll take some pictures of this stuff eventually... Pinky Pie my ass.

Then we went over the Grandad's house, and he gave her a princess baby! With a tiara! Also very exciting! Janey kissed him on the cheek and jabbered the whole way home and fell asleep about 2 seconds after her head hit the pillow.

Happy Birthday Jane! I can't believe my teeny, tiny, smooshable, nuzzling, head-bonking, wrowring, fierce baby Jane is a big two year old. In the words of every woman over 50 in my extended family, "Well goodness gracious child! It's time to put a brick on your head!"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What We've Been Up To

So we're in sloth-ville. The last stretch of unscheduled summer before life picks back up again in the fall. Looming ahead are countless well checks and immunizations, dentist appointments, small groups, commutes and lists of school supplies. I also have to plan a birthday party for my tiny baby Jane who is certainly NOT turning two next week because that would be INSANE CAN'T YOU SEE SHE IS JUST A TINY BABY?!

Anyway, this is what we've been up to:

Making some stamps, so Wren can help make Jane's birthday present. Wren has some very definite stamp ideas. For instance, she would like more butterflies. Since she's a bit too young in my opinion to be wielding the super sharp tools, she contents herself by standing approximately half and inch from my face and directing all my motions. Very helpful.

Mmmm....cherries. We've been doing some of this, since cherries have been so cheap this year.

We've been doing way too much of this.

And not enough of this.

Or this. You know, you can let the other laundry go for a while, but there's really no wiggle room with diapers. Regardless of motivation, you just really have to wash them.

And the majority of our time at home is spent like this:

With Wren drawing stories, and holding them up for me to see. This is a deer family- a mama, daddy and baby deer. Also, if I can translate it to a linoleum block, possibly our Christmas card this year. What an artist, huh?

It's Official

I'm a dirty hippie.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

looking forward to knitting again...

So it's still 105 degrees outside for at least a few days out of every week around here. Not really what I'd call knitting weather. But school is starting soon, and my job (!) and I'm getting other occasional hints that fall might actually happen sometime soon.

There are so many things to love about fall (not the least of which is the ability to strap my kids into their car seats without hearing the pained screams of the damned in hell if a metal buckle brushes against bare skin). Fall is definitely my favorite time of year, and it's so much better because it follows the blistering misery of August. And since this is Texas, usually September as well. Actually I remember shopping for Christmas trees in shorts and tank tops a few years as a kid, but we're just going to pretend like that never happens.

Anyway! Knitting! Obviously it's too soon to touch wool, what with the unbearable punch-in-the-stomach heat of the outdoors. But we can shop around? Look at a few fun fall patterns? That adorable little dress pattern is from Rasmilla's Etsy shop and I'm thinking it would be a great supplement to Jane's school wardrobe (which currently consists of some pretty rank hand-me-downs that came to me several years ago perfectly intact and lovely, but did not survive Wren's twos in such great shape.

And here's a free pattern for a little cardigan from Knitting Pure and Simple that actually looks somewhat doable- since there are no buttonholes, and not much seaming. I don't find it as initially terrifying as most knitting patterns, so that's good, right?

Ah! Bloomers! So cute! And if I made them with wool, instead of cotton like The Purl Bee used in their tutorial, they would work as a diaper cover too.

I'm also looking ahead for some Christmas present ideas. It might seem early to most people, but I have to budget in at least a month of procrastination a bit closer to the deadline, so I'd like to have at least an idea of what I'm putting off making:

This pattern made the rounds on Ravelry and it seems like everyone has tried it. I'm a little scared- this would be the closest I've come to lace knitting, and although it's definitely the most economical knitting (not much yarn) it seems like it might be extremely finicky and frustrating, not really suited to someone who says, when making enormous quilt tops, "so they don't line up, so what? It probably won't bother me in 50 years..."

Maybe I should start chunkier? With a big old chunky cowl? I can think of a few people who might like that for Christmas. Personally, cowls creep my out. First of all, there's the ultra weird magical birth connection, and then if maybe you have blessedly not known about that in the past, there's also the fact that it looks like a big itchy possibly sentient collar.

However, that won't stop me from making you one, if I thought you'd wear it. After all, it might imbue you with psychic powers and keep you from drowning, who knows?

Jane is sitting across from me, making her fake "eating" noise. Which is hilarious. Chase and I crack up every time she does it. She used to literally say "nom nom nom" which was awesome of course, but now it's a more glottal, back of the throat "ugn ugn ugn" type of sound. "Mama I'm gonna eat you up ugn ugn ugn!" So so funny. Maybe I'll get the Flip out and capture that shit.

Either way, this is a kid who deserves an adorable knitted dress, am I right? COME ON FALL!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weekend Breakfast

With excitable kitchen help.

This weekend, I found a cinnamon roll recipe that is realistic for my family. Realistic because there's no "step one- wake up at 4 AM and begin kneading dough." Instead, step one happens the night before, when I'm setting the coffee pot and playing paper/rock/scissors with Chase over who has to wash the dishes. Much more reasonable.

I got everything all rolled out and cut into adorable little circles, and put it all in the fridge, and then on Saturday morning, when Jane first began screaming "BANANA BANANA BANANA" from her crib, I stumbled into the kitchen and threw the whole pan into the oven.

Janey danced around impatiently yelling exhortation and encouragement to the cooking rolls, interspersed with some occasional trash talking, such as "Ow! Oven hot! HOT HOT HOT TOO HOT TO TOUCH" and so on.

Obviously she can be at least partially credited with the happy result. Since Wren tends to drag herself out of bed at least an hour after everyone else in the family is already up and breakfasted.

We did manage to save her one, though. We even had a few left over for Sunday morning too. I will definitely be making these again. They seem really perfect for special occasion breakfasts, like Easter and Christmas and birthdays and stuff. Definitely my most successful breakfast baking in a while, since there's nothing to do but make the glaze, and no sink full of dishes to wash when you're done.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


So during strictly dedicated study time, as my summer semester winds down, I am finding myself daydreaming online a little bit more than Chase would appreciate, if he knew. (Any amount of procrastination from me can never equal the winter of 2002, when Chase discovered the NES emulator).

Moving on, I wanted to share what I've been looking at/drooling over/daydreaming about lately. Since we're all consumers here, right? No judgment. Other than the standbys- Trulia, various crafting blogs, and the AV club, lately I've been obsessed with...

Bunk Beds!

Just look at those! Aren't they awesome?

And these? Perfect for those kids who insist on sleeping in your hallway! I don't know if this is just me, but sleeping nooks have always been extremely appealing. My favorite thing about the Tumbleweed houses has always been the cozy little sleeping loft:

If living in 100 sq. ft. had looked like that, instead of what it actually looked like in L.A., I might have been more inclined to burn down our storage unit and embrace the simple life (as per Chase's request). However, I can guess exactly how long I could share that loft with Jane before I got a broken rib and a black eye (not long), and re-embrace the concept of a whole separate bedroom, with a door.

Anyway, next on my list is this little project, which I think Wren would love:

Doesn't that look fun? And I could keep it rolled up in my bag, for lines and restaurants and what not. Although actually we won't be eating in restaurants much this month. Eff you Sallie Mae. And God knows I SHOULD NOT start another project before I finish the damn baby quilt that has been staring me down for 3 months, filling me with guilt every time I accidentally glance in its dark little corner.

And last on the time-wasting circuit, excluding my new favorite website, is the Texas A&M book history workshop, which happens every spring and looks like so much fun. You set type, make paper and ink, bind books and print on a common press, and you get to attend seminars at night! I know! Seminars!

Anyway it sounds like a lot of fun to me, so if anyone has a spare $800 and a benevolent spirit, just leave me a comment. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

August, finally! Or, I can't believe it's August!

School has been kicking my butt lately. I love this preservation class, my favorite by far, and it's been awesome to find an aspect of a vocational degree plan that appeals to me so much. You mean, someone will PAY ME for preserving books bound in human skin? But I would totally do that for free!

It's been somewhat challenging to cram consistent study time into our days though. Summer is such a strange time for a family with little kids- the hot afternoons, when it's 103 and we can't stick our noses outside, just drag on and on. Dinners are fraught and difficult. Someone is always collapsing into a puddle of woe about something. Chase walks into chaos, with me, more often than not, asking if he'd rather have popcorn or pancakes for dinner.

These days, as we get closer to Jane's birthday, Wren has begun describing her as "all two-ed up." This is a remarkable phrase in that it captures somehow the transformation from the brash and bumbling toddler of 1 and a half to the suddenly crazed, rampagingly defiant typical two year old. We have much to look forward to. For real though, Janey is bold and hilarious, and sweet and cuddly at the same time. She has an upset tummy this week, and some teeth coming in, so she's not as rowdy as usual. But she is still capable of pinning Wren to the floor and singing "twinkle twinkle little tars" so loudly that you literally cannot hear yourself yelling at her to stop.

Wren is sooooo excited about school starting again, which I'm afraid reflects poorly on our awesome action filled summer. By action I mean, purple glitter play dough on the kitchen table while I do my homework. She is really going to enjoy being back in school at the end of this month, and Jane will be going with her this year, for two mornings a week. Wren's drawings are just amazing to me these days. I know, feel free to pass out from boredom, but to ME they are incredible. She tells wonderful stories to go with her pictures, and she has been talking a lot about tight rope wires. I'm thinking we might want to check out this book. As part of building the tight rope walking/flying skill set, Wren has also recently commissioned a cape, "purple, with silver stars, and rainbows." Miraculously, I found some fabric that fit the bill in the clearance section of Joann the other day, so as soon as my homework is done... we can look forward to SuperWren!