Thursday, May 21, 2009

Midwifery books, Pregnancy books, anatomy & physiology books

Those are on my table right now.  And we're not talking 3 or four books.  We're talking ten.  On one table.  Because that's how many I need to get through my homework that's due tomorrow.  

And they aren't even cutting it.

None of us are quite sure how we were supposed to get our work done, because we're all having a hard time getting answers.  And it's not like I'm bad at researching.  I'm pretty good (if I do say so myself... and I do).  Google, Wikipedia, random online journals.  Ten textbooks.  Not helping.  

We all hope for some clarification this weekend.  

And now I'm off to create a costume of a seven month old embryo.  Yay!  

Friday, May 15, 2009

Photos! Yay!

I love mail-order photo companies.  I don't really have a preference.  Any place where I can order prints and get them mailed to me for half the price I like.  Because I like photos.  I like printing lots of them and putting them in albums and pasting them on my walls.  Almost free self-made art, yay.

Here are some of the new additions:  

Underside of a bridge, taken while on one of the super-cool architectural boat tours.

The Trump Tower, almost done.  A big shiny building.

A pretty little butterfly.  

So -- yay, photos!  I spend most of my afternoon putting these on the wall instead of working of Meredith's wedding dress.  

(Note to Meredith:  I was totally working on your dress all day.  Don't believe the lies.)  

And... that's all.  I like photos.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Food and dogs.

Well, I guess that title is misleading.  It connotes that I will be writing about how food and dogs relate to each other, or how they are somehow connected in some way.  Although they are related (that is, dogs do in fact eat food), I won't be speaking about their connections here today.  

I will be talking about bread.  Wonderous, beautifully edible bread. Finally. The only attribute I could have wished on this bread was for it to have had a slightly crispier crust. But it was soft, yes.  Tasteful, yes. Risen just enough but not so much that it ever even thought about falling.

It was so good that it was completely eaten in 48 hours. Yes -- that good.  Mmmm... bread.  Yum.

As for the dog part of the post:  I gave the dog a bath.  Which is good, because now he doesn't smell. much, anyway.  He's an old stinky mutt.  And his ears are pretty grimey sometimes, they need all the help they can get.  

Bad: because I, too, got a bath.  (I already had one today, thankyouverymuch).

My method is to fill up the tub with halfway soapy water, make him sit in it, and scrub him with soap.  Scrub him GOOD with soap.  His fur is somewhat water resistant, so I figure the more he is immersed in the water, the more clean he will be.  The problem was that Baloney seemed to think I was trying to drown him when I made him lay down in the tub for the first time.  He was SO freaked out.  So I have to hug him around his wet, soapy neck while I hold him down.  I've given up on staying dry.

Here he is, freshly bathed and still somewhat damp.  

The other part I hate about giving him baths?  The fact that he feels he must bathe himself afterwards.  He licks his paws (and everything else) until he's... I don't know.  Dry, maybe?  But this is obviously a very important part of the process.

What you may not know is that Baloney is pretty much deaf.  So he can't hear himself as he NOISILY BATHES HIMSELF.  It drives me nuts.  If he does this for too long, I throw something at him -- not rocks or anything, just small pens or bottle caps or something lightweight -- so that he stops.  

But I would rather him be not smelly.  Uck on dog smell.  Blech.

Bathe regularly, folks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cheap Eats

So, did you hear the economy is/was/still might be tanking?  Yep, most people are trying to slim down their budgets.  

Finally, I say.  Too many people have been living past their means for too long.  Sheesh.  ...of course, not that I was that much better until about a year or two ago.  It took me FOREVER to learn that my economic status was not the same as my parents' status (imagine that, a theatre grad not having the income of a family who had been working for decades, who'd a thunk).  Anyway, I figured it out, paid off the bills, slowly (I mean slowly) got a budget, and have been getting better gradually ever since.  Took me long enough.  But my husband has always lived frugally ("It's like Monopoly," he says, "you can't spend more than you've got!"), and I've been doing pretty well for a while, so I got a head start on the people who just started getting cheap last fall.

Anyway, I'm now at a point where I can look at an item in a store and know whether or not it's a good deal.  That's important, and not as easy as it seems if you're not used to it.  Here in Chicago, you're lucky to find ground beef for less than $2.50/lb, boneless chicken breast for $3/lb, and apples for less than $1.50/lb.  Add in all the fancy stuff that "people are supposed to eat", and the grocery bill can add up fast.  I swear, when I was in college, I would sometimes spend $100 a week on food.  A WEEK.  For one person.  It was in the name of it's-healthy-for-me, but it was WAY out of budget.  Kinda dumb.  I'd love to eat all natural free range organic happy everything, but I just can't afford $10/lb meat.  Or oranges for $1.50/lb.  Or a box of cereal that's less than a pound for $5.  It's just not possible.  I feel bad for the animals and the earth, I know it's not as good for us, but there's just nothing to be done about it.

So, let's look at what I've prepared over the past week or so:

Beef roast with mashed potatoes and salad:  Beef, buy one get one free, $2.50/lb.  Potatoes, $.50/lb for a 10 lb bag.  Salad with tomatoes and cucumber, about $1.50.  Per serving:  $2.00.

Tuna salad sandwich: Tuna, $.59, mayo/mustard, $.25.  Croissant, $.60.  Apple, 5 lbs/$3, about $.55.  Total:  $1.99.  (The croissant did me in.)

Pasta with tomato-beef sauce:  Pasta, $1.  Beef, $2/lb.  Tomatoes in a can (2), $1.50.  Onion & other, $.50.  Per serving: $1.75.

Chicken Rice & Spinach casserole:  Chicken (breasts, frozen from before I realized I shouldn't buy the easy kind), $2/lb.  Spinach, $1.50. Rice, $.50. And some other stuff.  Per serving: $1.50.

Beans, cornbread, and salad:  Beans, $1/lb.  Cornbread, about $2 homemade.  Salad of tomatoes  cucumber, $1.50.  Per serving:  $1.25.

Eggs & toast:  Eggs, $2.50/18.  Bread, homemade, $2.00.  Per serving, $.50.

So I'm doing alright, I think.  I'm finding meat on sale, buying a lot, and freezing it (wrapping in foil and writing the date on it first).  I can get chicken leg quarters for $.75/lb at the corner store normally, and sometimes on sale for $.50/lb.  Heavy produce (apples, potatoes, oranges) have better prices by the bag.  And although I don't typically buy onions by the bag (why not, who knows), I think I'll start.  Since we're chocaholics we always have some choclatey sweet stuff around, and my husband likes the good stuff -- Ghiradelli.  It's hard to go back to store brand chips... so that's our splurge item.  It's typically $3.89 for an 11 oz bag of chocolate chips, I can find them for 2 for $5 every month or two.  So I stock up, and we go through a bag every 2 weeks or so.  Cereal is SO expensive here, normally $4-5 a box, depending on what you get, so that gets passed up for eggs and bread.  Or oatmeal.  And I fill a casserole or pasta/rice dish with beans to pack in more protein and fiber, and that allows me to be able to serve a little less meat.  Any little bit of healthy filler helps.  And it also helps that Matt likes pretty much everything I've made, or I'd be totally frustrated with trying to please him and our wallets.

I normally shoot for a $5 per person per day food cost.  That's $250 - $300 per month for the two of us.  I guess that's not too bad depending on who you ask.

And tonight: I'll make oven-roasted fries for later this week (have to do *something* with the potatoes) and some sort of baked sweet.  It's been 48 hours since we've had baked goods in the house, I might get divorced if I don't correct that soon.  Since I found 500 bijillion tons of nuts while rearranging the kitchen this evening, I think it'll have nuts in it.  And chocolate.  (But that goes without saying.)

Shop on.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

Oh, food is good. I like food. I will tell you more about my food, since I KNOW you are anxiously awaiting to hear what my diet has been lately.

[cricket noises]

Right. Um... moving on.

So. The other night: Whole Grain Capellini with a delicate Bolognese.

And by that, I mean whole wheat spaghetti with ground meat and canned tomatoes. But it was really good, so I figured it could have a fancy pants name. 

I was actually pretty impressed. I sauted up some onion with ground beef (on sale for $1.50/lb!) and basil and oregano (can't omit the oregano in a Greek household, I think the punishment is death, or having to constantly roll a ball of herbs up a hill for eternity, or something like that). And then I poured in a can of petitely diced tomatoes (preseasoned with garlic, $1 each, yay), and half a small can of tomato paste. and I stirred it and let it simmer for awhile.  (We can never use a whole bottle of prego before it molds, so a can is just easier and less wasteful for us.)

How long did I let it simmer? I don't remember. I let it simmer as long as it took me to mix and knead this beauty:

Yep. Bread. Good bread. ... Well, kinda good bread. It looked really good after the first rising, I was excited. It looked glorious and full after the second rising, I was elated. Then, in the ten minutes it took the oven to come to full temperature, it fell. And didn't even do that fancy "oven rise" thing that bread does when it cooks. had so much potential. [sigh]

And naturally, the second loaf from this batch that I made the other day did the same dumb thing.  You'd think bread was hard.  [sulk]

And... let's see.  Spinach pie, yay!

I love spinach pie.  But I always conveniently forget until 8:30pm on a work night that it really takes a long time to prep, what with all the phyllo layer-butter-phyllo layer-butter-phyllo layer-butter-phyllo layer-butter business.  At least it's yummy.  

Let the good times roll.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I want to be a midwife SO BAD

But I'm gonna hafta wait. [sigh] It's just not my time, sad as I am to say so. Why do I say so?

As you may or may not know, I just barely missed getting a spot in the glorious but life-sucking UIC Master's in Nursing program that I would have started last January. (I was actually closer to being in than I thought, but I'm not going to post about that here.) Anyway, although I was dead-set on that program before I was married, I later decided I was glad I didn't get in. I would have made a pretty bad wife if I were in that program. I would have been at the school all day, and home just enough to sleep. I would do that to me, but I can't do that to Matt. Some people do, and that's totally fine if it works for them, but I just don't want to do that anymore.  So... school option number 1, nixed.

After I got the "You're-not-in-yet" letter from UIC, I started a dozen or so files on the other nursing schools in the area. Many were accelerated Bachelor's programs, where I'd get my degree in a year.  But this would bring me back to the same problem I had with the UIC program -- too much time in school, not enough time to actually be the wife I want to be -- so those are out.  Besides, I'm trying to make it through school without loans, and those programs are 20k - 50k.  That's a bit more than I have managed to save up.  And although there are loan payback programs from the government and hospitals upon signing contracts, you have to pay all that upfront.  And amazingly enough, a white girl from the burbs with a good upbringing making an okay amount of money that already has one degree can't get any scholarships.  Go figure.  So anyway, the other fancy accelerated programs are out.  Option 2, nixed.

Last fall, while taking a Microbio class at Truman College, I found out that they had a nursing program -- I could get an Associates and be able to sit for the exam and get my RN in 2 years.  Huh.  That wasn't too bad.  So I got my info together, kicked some major bootie on my placement tests, and just found out last week that I'm in.  YAY!  I'm in somewhere!  I'm on my way!!!  Or something.  So this starts this fall.  And it seems that it's only about $5000 for the whole 2 years.  Good, gives me something to do other than my accounting job I can't stand.  And it's pretty marketable, that's good, too.

And then, a month or two ago, a friend from my Biology class two years ago told me that if I had free time, I should complete a nurses aide training program.  She said that all the girls at Marquette that had been nurses aides were much more comfortable when they got to clinicals.  And it gets you a bit of networking at hospitals, so that can't hurt.  It's only $1000, so that's not too bad for a certificate that will get me experience and a job that I can have while getting my RN.  Anyway, I got into a CNA program at Truman, and that's an 8 week program that starts in June.  So, yay!  Another start!  Woo-hoo!

And then... early this year, after talking to Kim, I found out about a great midwifery training program.  It was for Certified Professional Midwives, training for homebirth.  I would love to get my hands into homebirth -- I think homebirth midwives have a far greater knowledge of birth as a normal process, and really want to learn that.  And tie that in with my RN that I'll be getting, and I'd be doing pretty well.  So I called the head of the program and got myself in.  Yay!  Midwifery, here I come!  YAYYAYYAY!

And then... in February I went with many of us midwife-wanna-bes to Springfield with the Coalition for Illinois Midwives to lobby for the Homebirth Safety Act.  This would legalize the CPMs, and allow us to be regulated.  That whole legal thing would be nice, let me tell you.   Being an underground is no fun.  So we all went down there, and it was kind of a rush.  Getting involved with the lawmaking process, all the networking and persuading.  Yeah, it's politics... politics, blech... but it's gotta be done.

And after realizing a number of things about me and my life right at this moment and where I am in this world, I realized that maybe working for the coalition on this new bill may be the best use of my time, rather than working towards my own midwifery training.  

It took me 2 months to make my decision final... I only just sent the email breaking the news to the head of the program.  That was a really hard email to write.  And it took me a while to finally send it.  


I want to be a midwife SO MUCH.  I want to help moms.  I want to support families.  I want to spread my knowledge, and encourage women to look for their own answers to their questions.  I want to empower and enlighten and embrace women and their experience and their health.  

It almost makes me wish I had not gotten into theatre in undergrad, wasting my time with acting when I should have been on my way to being a midwife.  I would be one by now, making my way, making waves.  ...But I'm not.  And I loved the work I did, and I don't regret it.  But it's still hard.

I'll be a midwife one day.  It may be a long time from now.  But I will be a midwife one day.  

Find your dreams, everyone.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On the Road Again

Ah, Ohio. Home of my parents. Home of my husband's parents-in-law. Source of joy and only minor annoyances now that I don't live there anymore. We love Ohio. My husband told me a great joke when he was courting me:

"Oh yeah, Ohio is always wonderful! And Cleveland -- the best! Want to know when it looks the most beautiful? ...When you're seeing it in your rear view mirror! Badda-boom-ching! HAHAHAHAHA! where are you from again? Oh, Ohio, really. where in Ohio? ...near Cleveland? ... ah. Right."

Then he went on to make fun of liberal arts degrees, and found out after he finished that joke that I had a theatre degree. The poor boy had lost all hope of marrying me. But then I made some chili for him, so he figured I liked him enough to marry him anyway.

But back to the topic at hand, Ohio. It was a good time. While I talked midwifery and all that the future holds with Mom, Matt was locked in the computer room, looking at stuff like this (courtesy of Wikipedia, of course):

Well, maybe not quite like this. His stuff for his physics class was a little different. At least, I assume so. I wouldn't know the difference between this and what he was actually looking at if it hit me in the face. Although I guess I wouldn't be able to see it if it hit me in the face, that's happened before. So maybe it's better to say I wouldn't know the difference between this and Matt's homework if I had had a chance to see both items walk slowly up and down a catwalk, turning gracefully, showing me all they got. Then at least I would have a better look.

I would still have no clue.

Anyway, that was really all that happened last weekend on our trip to Ohio to see the 'rents. We ate lamb (any respectable Greek eats lamb), communed with family, watched some movies (Working Girl with Melanie Griffith - yay! - and The Saboteur, an old Hitchcock film). Mom bought us yummy chocolates and chocolate cupcakes from the lovely local bakery (that boy of mine is spoiled by two women!). I drove halfway back, and for someone who hates driving a stick shift, that sure was a painful experience in Chicago traffic. But we got back at a respectable time, and all was well.

Then Matt got back to his Physics. Blech. Four more weeks until the semester is over. Not sure which of the two of us are more excited. We'll get through.

Hope everyone's Easter was full of happy!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bread is good. Unless it's bad.

Sparked by all these wonderful blogs I've been reading lately, I decided to make all our own bread from now on. Why?

1. It's cheaper (unless you buy wondersuperyuck bread, which doesn't count)
2. It's healthier (no more weird preservatives that will keep my digestive system in tact 736 years past my death)
3. It's such a wonderful, house-warming past time which will make my heart feel more whole (no promises there, folks)

Well, I am quite the baker. And I have baked bread before. Nothing to it, right? Just a little bit of work -- and if I use the bread attachment on my kitchenaid, I don't even have to do that horrible awful kneading for ten mintues. Yay, bread!

Well, it didn't quite work out that way.

This is a photo of my husband feeding my first, second, and third loaves to the birds -- I have no idea how he was even able to tear those chunks of bricks into small pieces. Oh -- sorry, I just remembered he didn't throw the second. I didn't even bother to bake that loaf, I just (sadly) threw out the lumpy dough, I was so angry. Nothing rose. Not at all. Not after using brand-new yeast, active or quick, thermometers to test the temperature of the water, good kneading... nothing. I am normally SO much better than that. [pout]

So I read up a bit, found out that you can salvage a bread that didn't rise the first go around by mixing a bit more yeast into it, and tried that with the 4th loaf. It came out... edible.

As you can see, it's only slightly brick-like. There are some air bubbles, but you can see the marks from the knife. You shouldn't see knife marks in bread. [sigh]

So I tried again. I read a science of cooking book, and learned a bit about the whole flour-protein-yeast mixture (I will spare you the scientific details). I bought some wheat gluten and decided to let it rise for extra time just to be sure it came out right... but perhaps I should have been checking it. That wheat gluten... boy. It sure makes bread rise somethin' fierce.

Here is my lovely, well-risen bread. Look at that rise.

Look at that gorgeous crumb. So fluffy. So soft. Ah, bread. How I do love thee.

I pulled it out of the oven, my husband salivating. Mmmm.... We tasted it.

Hmm. Kinda tasteless.

Then I remembered -- I didn't add salt. Not ANY. No wonder it had no flavor and rose like the dickens. It rose so much, it caved:

So, yeah -- bread. I plan on making more. One day, I may even get it right.

(stupid bread)

Monday, March 30, 2009

You Can Have Whatever You Like

(In case you're wondering, no, I don't like TI, who wrote the above lyrics. He just got arrested for weapons or something related to them. But my coworker's cell phone rings with the above lyrics, and so I frequently have the song in my head.) [shrug]

With the recent craziness of our small household, I've lost myself in a little bit of thought of what I want for our future. Most of it is different than most peoples' wants, I suppose.

I would love to live in the boonies, on a little homestead, Little-House-on-the-Prairie-Style. Just, you know, with electricity... and running water... and my internet. I do enjoy Google and Wikipedia. But I'd love to make my own soap, which I can't do now for lack of time and space. I want a garden big enough to take care of at least some of our winter food, and learn canning -- again -- lack of time and space. Enough kids that we have a good sized family, but not so many that we can't have a decent lifestyle (no, I don't know what that means yet). I want to have a house that is clean and fresh, with our own home grown flowers adorning the big dining room table. I want a kitchen open enough to the rest of the house that I can be there and not cut off from friends when they are over for dinner. I want a pretty but eclectic tea set that I can haul out after dinner, with enough time to be able to actually relax and enjoy it. I want chickens (I think). I don't know if I'd like to homeschool our kids, but it's a possibility. I like baking bread -- even though I don't quite have my method down pat yet -- and want to bake more.

I never imagined saying this, but I get some silly satisfaction out of taking care of the home. I remember glorifying the 1950's housewife lifestyle when I was a kid, wishing to playact in it for a time. And I had started doing that after getting married, but thought that I had to be careful in setting up that soon-to-be-cemented expectation in Matt that this was the way it would always be. Then I realized -- this was enjoyable. I liked this. Huh.

So I've found myself enjoying that simpler life that I've talked about for years. Buying fewer things, making more of our own household supplies (baking soda is AWESOME at de-griming a bathtub), trying to keep a slower pace. I always talked a good talk, but I'm finally living it. Well... okay, kind of living it. As much as one can when living in a huge city in a small apartment working at a desk job. I've gotten rid of debt, I don't spend as much -- or when I do, I spend intelligently on something I plan on having for a LONG time.

I finally feel like my religious search has mellowed, too. I have finally settled back into a version of a mindset I had years ago, just more Abrahamic-based. I feel like I can look to God for the stability I need, but know that I can't expect any help unless I first get my own rear in gear. I'm not perfect, but no one judges me except for Him, through the eyes of the One who gave me this life I lead. As long as I'm doing the best I can -- and actually doing my best, not just faking it -- I'll be fine. I hope that I can bring light to everyone in my life.

I know that in the past I looked upon people who were "simple" and thought they were missing out; it was too bad they didn't see all that life had to offer. If only they would reach out from their small lives, spread their wings and fly! Think critically of life and of the people around them, expand from where their families came from! I've finally begun to realize how wrong I was -- not necessarily for everyone, but for me. Maybe it was a stage I was going through, or maybe it was just me trying to make good on all the good education given to me by my parents. But simple isn't necessarily less. I can't preach it to everyone, though I hope that I can subtly influence other people to make similar choices. We can have whatever we want -- and if simple we want, simple we can have.

But living simply doesn't mean you can't have and enjoy these every now and then (as long as you get a good deal).

I love my life. [smiles]

Yours in Simplification.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I Love My Phone… Or, The Setback after Forehead vs. Nose

I think it all started with my new phone. Or maybe the fact that I'm leaving work in a month and can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe just that eating more beef is upping my iron intake and giving me more energy. Whatever. I like my new phone.

I won’t bore you with the specs, but basically it’s one of those fancy-schmancy expensive lil’ smartphones. (For those who care, it’s a Palm Centro; for those that ask, no, they certainly aren’t giving me any money for saying their name here.) I originally got it so I could get to my email or the web if I needed it, which could come in handy if I were on call as a doula or midwife trainee.

I soon found that the best part of this phone was the PDA part. I can:

1. Keep my calendar in order

2. Have an organized to-do list

3. Actually remember my grocery list

4. Recall friends’ birthdays, making me feel like a better person

You know how you have thoughts of random things that you know you have to do pop up throughout the day? I either tried really really really hard to remember them (like that ever worked) or wrote the task on a post-it (ask me how many random lost post-its fell to the bottom of my purse). So now, when I think of something, take out my handy-dandy phone, type it into my To-Do list, and no forgetting! (Unless I forget to review the list before I leave for work and neglect to buy milk on the way home… not that I’ve ever done that.)

This was working really well when I first got my phone last fall. I was figuring out that when I typed all my random thoughts into my phone that my brain – the meager organ it has seemed to be lately – could actually focus. And I wasn’t as stressed. I was getting really used to that.

Then I got mugged.

Yep – I got mugged at 6:45 on New Year’s Eve morning on the way to work by someone who decided his best instrument of destruction was his forehead. I don’t suggest this. I wasn’t knocked out, but I saw absolutely nothing and definitely fell to the ground pretty fast and stayed there for a good while... 30 seconds?... while I waited for my brain to begin working again.  This was when I realized my purse was not in my hand anymore.  Har-umph.  I got up, walked back home, and buzzed the door for my husband to come get me (no keys – they were in my purse).

Anyway, it could have been worse. I could have been beaten or something, but the worst injury was just a slight deviation of my septum to the left. Well, and a lot of bruising and a lip three times the size it normally is. I won’t post the photos here, they’re yucky. But know that I took the day off work, and I got the following day off because it was New Year’s Day.

Yeah… we didn’t go out New Year’s Eve. I couldn’t really eat or drink well, and I didn’t want to be stared at. So I stayed at home, had dinner with friends, and kept an ice pack on my face. But we still had a good time, honest. I found a way to drink my wine without spilling most of it on myself.  Yes, I can adapt pretty well, thank you.

Anyway, so the phone was gone, but because I was smart enough to get the warranty on it in the first place (thank goodness), my new one showed up at my door in two days. Yippee! But of course, life was busy, and I didn’t get it set up the way I liked it for a while. And life got stupid again. And because Matt is taking a HUGE course load (try taking two calculus classes and two physics classes and have a life at the same time, I dare you), I’m trying to pick up the slack around the house. And that slack was often dropping.

Well, last month I finally decided to get my phone organized again. I reorganized my contacts. I re-entered my calendar dates (the ones I could remember). I put a modified budget into it so I could see how much money I spend per month. I have a daily to-do list (call temp agency, pluck eyebrows), and a list for all big projects (organize wedding photos, clean up sewing area). And… really, all is well in the world again.

My apartment has never been so *consistently* clean. EVER.

The dishes are always washed – there’s just something about having a clean sink at night (thanks, FlyLady!) The dresser is no longer a catch-all for random items with no home. The floor is swept (with the help of an easy-to-use mop that I like, not a pain-in-the-rear broom that I hate). The important papers got reorganized in new expandable cardboard (not plastic) file folders (sometimes it’s just nice to buy new things to kick-start a project). And Matt helped to get the closets reorganized, that was a big help. Yay for my husband.

I do believe that because I’m able to keep my life in order, with a system that works for me, my brain is free to think about… well, nothing, sometimes, I can’t lie. But that means I’m less stressed, and I have no problem keeping up with chores and other life-tasks.

Anyway, my point: I feel like a high-maintenance ninny, since I seem to need a piece of electronic junk to keep my life in order.

But it works for me. So… fine. Think what you will. Just don’t take my phone.

However, if you must take my phone, ask nicely. And please don’t head-butt me for it.

Clean on, Personal Digital Assistant lovers.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Waterbirth is awesome

Yay for more birth workshop learning. One day, I will be out there in the birth world, making birth super, one family at a time. Until then, I will learn lots and store it all in my brain.

The Waterbirth Certification workshop was run by Barbara Harper -- those of you in the birth world know that she's a pretty big deal. (Really, she is. She's awesome.) She is the founder of Waterbirth International, an organization that has brought waterbirth to thousands of US hospitals and dozens of other countries. And I got to learn about it all from her. And I ate lunch with her. Nyah - nyah. :)

Anyway, I learned a lot, about waterbirth and birth in general. There were a bunch of student midwives in there, and she presented information to us that kinda turned some of our learning up-side down... there's definitely no evidence for some of this crap that happens in the hospital... even with midwives. (Preggies: do your homework before making decisions -- or before having them made for you by your provider.)

The biggest thing we birthy people need to remember is that we have to have patience. Quit freaking out. Of course that comes with decades of experience, though, so we all get nervous when things don't go quite as planned until we have enough births under our belts that we're finally confident in our abilities and with the birth process in general. I mean, we're dealing with LIFE here. No wonder we're freaking out a little. (And then blubbering like idiots when the kid is finally born.)

And on the what-kind-of-midwife-am-I-finally-going-to-wind-up-being front: Talked to two fellow birthy colleagues, and there's a pretty awesome two year weekend midwifery program in the city. It's not nurse-midwifery (the Master's degree in nursing kind of midwife), it's for certified professional midwifery (the apprentice for a bunch of years kind of midwife). It's legally touchy in some states, including Illinois, but we'll see. I don't know yet where life is going to put me -- in homes or in hospitals. I want to serve everyone. I still want to get my RN. And then become a midwife... somehow. We'll see. Matt & I don't even know where we're going to live 2 years from now, so I have no idea what life will bring me.

Oh, and Barbara was originally an actress, and recently performed on Broadway in "Birth, the Musical". See... birth and theatre DO mix!

Birth on, everyone.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Caffeine = bad?

Okay. So I have gone back and forth on the caffeine issue for a long long long time.

"Caffeine is bad, it will kill you slowly!"

"Caffeine is not so bad if you don't have too much, stop worrying."

"Caffeine in tea is just as bad -- and chocolate has it, too!"

"Chemicals in decaffeinated teas are worse than having the caffeine, drink up!"

Seriously. Let's reach a concensus, shall we?

Well, I open Science Daily today, and see this:

Consuming Even Small Amounts Of Caffeine When Pregnant May Affect Growth Of Unborn Child

Great. Here's the article. It basically says that even in small amounts, the more caffeine you have, the higher your risk for a low birth weight baby. Not so good.

Then I looked at the sidebar where they keep related news, and saw this:

Reducing Caffeine Intake Has No Effect On Birth Weight Or Length Of Pregnancy

Right. Here's that article (I'm sure you can guess what it says).

You know, I go back and forth. Here's the obvious:

1. Me on coffee: I get jittery, sweaty, my heart races, and then I crash.
2. Caffeine in diet pills = even worse. (I take no responsibility for the flaws of my past.)
3. Tea has not as much caffeine, but still has some.

Lately, as Matt drinks caffeinated tea all day, I have started drinking it again. I had it banned from my diet at one time. I don't feel worse for the wear. But if I found out tomorrow I was pregnant, I'd probably lower my intake as much as possible. (I'd still eat chocolate. Obviously.) And I'd tell my other preggies to do the same, or at least tell them no one really knows if it's bad or not and make the choice wisely.

Let's consult Wikipedia. Wikipedia knows all.

Caffeine (paraphrased): Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant and speeds the metabolism. It is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive substance. It is useful for the plant as a pesticide. Its half-life in the system increases with disease or with youth (no wonder kids seem to hang on to a caffeine high for so long!). It may decrease long-term memory and impede learning.

Getting more technical: Caffeine is a competitive inhibitor of adenosine (part of the famous ATP molecule, the thing we use to store and use energy in our body). Oddly, it seems that this would cause brain activity to faulter... maybe that's why people seem to get energetic, but can't keep their thought processes under control. It intensifies and prolongs the effects of epinephrine-like drugs (read: when on meth, caffeine will make your high last longer! Hooray!). It can really screw up a spider's abillity to spin a web. :)

Okay, enough science. Well, I don't like anything that speeds up my metabolism -- our metabolisms are fast enough, thankyouverymuch, and the faster they are, the faster we die (I think). I may use it during an asthma attack to see if it helps to dialate my bronchials. But past that... well, I guess I'll head back to my herbal tea.

But I'm still going to drink some. I like Earl Gray and Chai, what can I say?

Drink up the tea, everyone.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Welcome back, Me!

Here I am, back again to the world of the blog. After a year-long sabbatical so I could court and marry my husband, it's about time I come back to my readers.

Alright... so it's not so much that people have been clamoring for a blog update from me, but maybe that I feel I have stuff to talk about again. What do I have to talk about?

- babymaking (not mine, other peoples')
- hand lotion and soap (I'm making it and I want to make it, respectively)
- sustainability & the badness of consumerism
- school: mine and my husband's
- cooking yummy things
- natural-ish living & stuff
- brief notes on my husband's interests (wind electricity, guitar playing, math)

... and other things, I'm sure. I can rant pretty well if I feel like it.

I leave you with pictures of our cat and dog. Who doesn't like pet photos? :)

Baloney, Matt's dog. He's a pretty awesome dog (that says a lot coming from this cat girl). He's wearing a bow that came from a wedding gift.

Kiki, peaking out from Matt's backpack (he put her there, she didn't seem to mind). She's down 2 lives (life-threatening illness at 9 weeks, fell out of a 3 story window last month) in 7 months. She needs to start saving those things for when she's a bit older.

Keep writing, everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Things just fall into place.

For those of you I haven't been able to talk to yet that are wondering:

1. Yes, I'm engaged. (And excited!)
2. I got the ring last Monday night, though we talked about getting married the week prior (so he didn't have to worry about me turning him down). :)
3. We met in our Chemistry class (insert joke about "chemistry" here) at the end of August, and went on our first date in early September.
4. Yes, even though we've only known each other just over 2 months, we are sure and we do know what we're doing (as much as anyone who gets married ever does, anyway).
5. We'll have a small ceremony after the spring semester is over (May-ish). Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease don't feel slighted if you aren't invited -- we're doing a *super small* ceremony, either at our new apartment-to-be or possibly my parent's house in Ohio. We probably won't even invite our entire families. Partially because we want to keep it cozy & intimate, partially because our apartment will be not large. Please don't ask me if you are invited, I will feel really guilty, I already know who I plan to invite, and Matt & I already agreed on this. We'd rather pay for tuition or a house than a huge party for 500 of our closest friends (no offense, it's just more practical).
6. Yes, we will have a larger get-together a few weeks later for those people that we couldn't have at the wedding, which will tenatively be at my parent's place. Because I do want to be able to see lots of people and share our joy. :)

It's so weird. Three months ago I swore up and down that I wanted to move back to Ohio, and there was no point in dating anyone here. Then I decide that Ohio won't work, and at about the same time I meet a wonderful man with whom I'm excited about spending the rest of my life (though he tells me all the time that he's getting the better end of the deal).

It really does sneak up on you when you least expect it. And then it beats you mercilessly over the head until you submit. :)

Warm wishes to everyone I haven't seen in years and and to those I see often.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

You probably aren't concerned with pregnancy or breastfeeding...

...but this is the sort of thing that frustrates me SO MUCH. It's long, but you'll get the gist of it if you take just a minute to skim it, if you don't mind.


This explains how legislators, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies don't have mothers' & babies' best interest in mind. They go against the WHO's (World Health Organization's) codes in the name of advertisement and profit.

I really hope I can make at least a little bit of a difference one day. Please, *please*, God, let me make a difference.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wait -- was that Halloween that just passed me by?

So Halloween was very anticlimactic this year. Not totally sure why, though I have a few ideas:

1. Instead of starting my costume in the summer, spending hundreds of dollars on yards and yards of fabric, allowing my sewing machine to consume hours upon hours upon days upon weeks of my life, all in the name of a beautiful historical recreation… I spent maybe 10 hours on a cute little lion costume. No, not horribly impressive from my typical costume perspective, but a very good concept of a lion. I was cute, I could move, and although my leg warmers didn’t stay up I consider it a success:

2. I only went to one party this year, as opposed to the three last year. Over two weekends. Wearing three different costumes. It was pretty fantastic. This year was much more low key, which is fine with me. I got to Amy & Dan’s by about 2:30, we chatted, I sewed my tail and ears, we got ourselves all done up, got food together, and started the soirĂ©e. Then I left by 10 pm because I was tired. But all in all, a good time, anyway.

3. What – I’ve been dating a wonderful man for the past month and a half who has been taking up a lot of my time and I haven't really been concerned with silly little things like sewing? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I deny everything.

Anyway, Halloween was still good enough to count. And I’m happy, and I got some good sleep, and I’m not really stressed out right now. I’m relearning math and music theory vicariously through Matt’s schoolwork, and my chemistry class is going as well as can be expected. I may have found a way to volunteer as a doula at a very good local hospital on weekends, which means I don’t have to worry about being on call all the time with this full time job and classes and all. I’m going home at Thanksgiving (how about that!) and bringing Matt with me. So things are good.

Hope you all had a good Halloween. Enjoy the rest of it, and give those trick-or-treaters the good stuff.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Something about the "Best-Laid Plans"...

After a long month (and much more drama coming down the pipe), I’ve finally determined – it’s just not possible for me to come home to Ohio to go to school next year. My new goal is The University of Illinois-Chicago… my original goal from last year. If things go as planned, I will apply this January for admission in January of 2009.

I know, I’m kinda sad about it, too, since I was looking forward to be back with old friends and family. But it’s not the end of the world.

My reasons:

1. Only $80,000 of debt vs. almost $200,000.

2. Two more classes to take vs. five.

3. $1000 worth of prerequisite classes vs. almost $10,000.

4. More time to learn Spanish.

5. More time to work as a doula.

6. The government-subsidized tuition reimbursement jobs that are in Illinois, but not as plentiful in Ohio.

7. My Sanity (or what is left of it).

Seriously, I’m getting tired from the amount of time I need to prepare and from trying to pay for all these classes. I’m worn out, which means I’m not doing my job at work, things fall through the cracks, which creates even more stress. Everything is snowballing more than I planned. I’m a hardy gal, but you can only take so much. I really liked the idea of coming back to Ohio, but it’s just not going to be feasible or realistic right now.

I’m reminded – we can plan until we are blue in the face, but life will always throw in its own twists & turns. No, we’re not subjects in someone’s cruel chess match, but we have to be adaptable. Go with the flow. My lifepath doesn’t rely solely on the opportunities taken, chances thrown aside, or the mishaps that have occurred, but it sure does make things interesting as doors open and close.

Perhaps this extra time will give me an opportunity to travel a bit this summer, to visit as many people as I can in Minnesota and Ohio. I hope you all forgive me as I take back my plans – I miss all of you dearly.

Dream big, and keep those doors freely swinging.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Moving, take two.

Ah, moving. I know all about how it goes. I do it a lot. (I just did it 3 months ago.)

Recap: a week and a half ago, I was given permission to break my current lease because of a horribly leaky ceiling that would require a torn-up ceiling. That didn’t bother me as much as the landlord’s lack of communication skills, which was the main reason to really break the lease. That and I could find a place cheap enough that I could save more for school. I found my place that night, and after a week of keeping on top of the management company, I finally got myself a signed lease. After that same week of not being able to get a hold of the old landlord, I was finally able to talk to him and get some papers signed. The scene was finally set.

Thursday before I stop to sign the lease, I go pick up my Uhaul -- a very large van that I could keep until Sunday night. I wind up being late to the lease signing because the trash pick-up truck was blocking my van. I was concerned I wouldnt get there in time to sign the lease (just something else that would have gone wrong), but I still get everything set. I get to the old place, get some things together, then Julie comes to my place to help. We load up shelves and kitchen stuff, and are on our way around 9pm. We pull up in my designated parking (an illegal parking spot directly behind a stop sign, but directly in front of my door), and I stop. Then I remember where the keys to my new place are.

At my old apartment. In my purse that I didn’t want to take with me.

So we go back to the old place, I get the keys, and go back to the new place. Julie and I get out and go to the back of the truck to unload.

That’s when I realize: I locked the truck keys in the truck with it running. Seriously.

We laugh (what else can you do at this point, I’ve been running on adrenaline for days already). We get ignored when we ask passers-by to use their cell phone (ours are in the truck). We don’t have the number for AAA anyway, and no businesses around have a phone book. Not even the neighborhood gay bar a few doors down has one.

Then, salvation -- Julie sees a tow truck coming down the road, and she jumps in front of it, practically getting killed. We stop him, ask how much it would be for him to get into my truck, and he says $25. Fine, whatever, just get my keys out of the truck. He does this, we give him money, and we’re on our way. It’s 10:45.

We unload into the hallway, pull the truck into the alley, then start hauling things into my new place. As we’re doing this, I meet my new neighbors: 3 Russian girls living in the studio apartment next door, who are on their way to the fire escape to smoke while wearing only tank tops & panties.

...What? Julie & I laughed. This is surreal. It’s like we’re in every man’s fantasy. (Which, when I told the guys at work the next day, they ALL offered to help me move. Though I’m sure they wouldn’t be all that helpful at that point.)

We got everything in and decided to call it a night. We drive back to my place, and try to find parking.

We’re looking for parking. At 1 am on a Thursday. For a HUGE Uhaul van. ...right.
We eventually find parking, a mile away, west of Ridge Rd. We walk back, and I’m in bed at 2am.

... Just as a side note, I’ve be getting to work early this week -- by 7am everyday -- because of a HUGE project that had an astronomical amount of expenses and invoicing that had to be out before I started moving. So between that and the move, it’s no wonder I’m so tired I locked the keys in the truck. But I digress.

Friday went well. Work was still busy, but Mary and I were able to move all my sewing stuff and put up shelves without a hitch.

Saturday morning I decide to take a load in before I go to my Chemistry class at 9 am downtown. I decide to take a load, drive to class, then have all my furniture donations in the van already so I can drop them off between class and picking up my mom from the train station. I get up at 5am, get things packed, and realized that moving even small furniture can be a two-person job. I’m not going too fast, but getting to class a half-hour late won’t kill me. I get to the new place, load everything in the elevator, and head up. I start unloading everything into the hallway, but the door is heavy and eventually closes. Then it goes up a few feet and stops.

The elevator just broke.

The elevator just broke with all my bedding, towels, and cleaning supplies. I’m surrounded by boxes of heavy books. And somehow, I realize I’m on the 4th floor, not the fifth, which I didn’t realize before I started unloading. I'm not sure what happened, but apparently the elevator hiccuped on its way to the 5th floor. The only phone number I have is for the management office, and I don’t even know if they’re open on Saturdays. ...I hear people up and moving in the apartment next to the elevator, and I knock on the door.

It’s three some-sort-of-asian-or-pacific-descent girls in this studio (does the management company not care about fire codes?), and I ask for a number. They have one, hooray! I call the number. I had been told that the normal building manager is on vacation until Sunday, but the calls get directed to the on-call person.

Except that the voicemailbox is full, and I can’t leave a message. Dammit.

I decide to take my books that are currently in the hallway up to my apartment (at least it’s only one floor), and then try calling again. Still no answer, with the management or the building guy. Okay, fine -- I’m going to the grocery store while I wait. I don’t know the people in this building, I’m not leaving for longer than a half-hour if I can’t watch my stuff in the broken elevator.

I go, I come back. I put things away. I call -- an answer! The management company lady said she’d at least get the freight elevator unlocked, but she couldn’t tell me if the elevator could get released sooner than Monday (Monday!!!), but she had my number, and would call when it got fixed. At least I got to someone.

At this time, it’s 11:30. I’m obviously not getting to class. (Sad -- not because I wanted to learn about chemistry, but because I wanted to see the cute boy in class with whom I’ve been email-flirting.) Anyway, I decide to clean the place with new cleaning supplies I just bought (so now I’ll have stock, once I can get my stuff from the elevator), and then unpack my kitchen. It was time well-spent, at least, and I got a lot done.

I take the old furniture to the Brown Elephant on Clark (more illegal parking), and then pick up my mom. We go to the old place, start doing a few things, and then I get a few people to show up -- Jason, Amy & Dan, and Matt & one of his friends (also named Matt, that made things easy). There was lots of beer, pizza, cookies, and ice cream sandwiches. (I know how to treat my help.) We load the van. We unload the van (Matt & Matt leave after earning their beer). We go back and load the van again (Jason leaves at this point, he earned his beer), and unload (Amy & Dan left after unloading the boxsprings, they also earned their beer).

Later, Julie comes back to help my mother & I organize a bit. I wish we had remembered to take a photo of the place before we started organizing -- it was a mess. This first photo hardly does the chaos justice. So much stuff, not much space, and it looked ridiculous. I am finally completely spent, my brain is mush, Julie leaves, and my mom & I go to sleep.

The next morning we’re up early, reorganizing so we have enough room to bring the last few items and make a Target run. We leave, go to Target, drop off Target items at the new place, pick up more donations, drop off the donations (more illegal parking), then head to the old place. We clean and pack the truck, almost forgetting a number of things in cabinets (and eggs -- we almost left eggs in the fridge). I leave a note with my forwarding address and keys, and we’re out. We unload (amongst children playing basketball with a milk crate in the alley), drop of the truck (late, so I’ll get slapped with a $25 fee plus the extra mileage fee), pick up food, and head home.

My head hit the pillow at midnight, and I doubt I was awake at 12:01.

After selecting a few items to get rid of, the place is looking okay. Not cluttered (unless you go into the walk-in closet, then all bets are off). And even with my space-utilizing skills, my mom was a huge help, I know I couldn't have gotten the place like it is without here. Sure it’s small, but I’m saving money, I’ll be forced to whittle down my possessions for when I move back to Ohio in May... and I do like the place.

Today I’ll finish getting the place together and study some chemistry. Back to work tomorrow, and I don’t want to think about how much work I’ll have after being gone, but I’ll survive.

Housewarming parties will be at the end of September. Say hi to the Russians if you see them in the hallway.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Moving... again...

So those of you that didn’t get a chance to visit me and see my new apartment yet -- your time has run out. :)

As my ceiling has been leaking for a few weeks (almost 2 gallons of water came through my roof during the last big storm!), my landlord has told me I could break the lease and leave. I’m not horribly concerned about the ceiling -- it’s annoying to keep two large bins under my leak, but it seems fixable. The ceiling would have to get torn out, but that would only last a week or two. Not really something I would move for, I’m not that easily annoyed. Check out the photos. I will say, though, that it did worry me when he said I could break the lease -- landlords don’t do that. So it probably is worse than it looks.

I am taking him up on the offer, mostly just to have the chance to move to a cheaper place. (Well, that and the fact that he has crappy communication skills, even when his tenant's living space is technically violating building codes.) When I signed the lease in March, I thought I only had 3 more prerequisite classes to take to get into nursing school. I found out later that I had 7 to take, half of them being about or more than $1000 each. So I was a bit crunched, but it was still do-able. Moving to a place $150 cheaper will give me some breathing room, and I’m looking forward to it.

Where am I moving, you ask? Well as long as all the paperwork goes through on Tuesday as planned, I’ll be moving to Sheridan between Foster & Argyle. It’s a good price, and it’s a sublease with the end date of May 31st (perfect for leaving for Ohio). It’s a nice little studio. About 400 square feet. I repeat... little studio.

I hear some of you who know me say, “Hah! You? Move into a little studio? With all the stuff YOU have? No way!”

I don’t blame you, I know I have a ridiculous amount of crap. I laughed at myself when I checked the place out for the first time, I won’t lie. But I’ve got it all figured out. I did a floor plan in my anal-retentive-planner kind of way, and I think this will work. It will be a stretch (or, I suppose, a crunch), but my plan was to move into a little studio when I got to Ohio, anyway. Might as well get used to it now.

Anyway, my apartment is all boxed up again. I did love the place, but I always knew it was more than I needed. I’ll be renting a moving van next Thursday through Saturday. I want to do this over the course of a few days -- to gradually trickle my stuff into the place, and to keep me from going insane like I did last time -- and I want a smaller vehicle instead of a truck that I can park on the street while I take my time.

So here it comes, the plea for help -- anyone have next Saturday afternoon/ evening free? I’m not imposing an entire apartment full of stuff on anyone, no way. Most of it will be moved on Friday. I just need help moving the things I can’t do myself: mattress & boxsprings, small loveseat, endtables, and a small desk. And it all fits in the elevator, so you don’t even have to do stairs. We’ll probably make 2 - 3 trips, it shouldn’t be bad. And you’ll get food for your effort. It’ll be the easiest move you’ve ever helped with, I swear. Last time I had movers -- SO worth the money -- but with this being last minute, I couldn’t make it work. So... please help. [pouty face] :)

So that’s me right now. [whew] Oh, and I got my root canal -- it was fine, not traumatic, I just need to get my crown now. Maybe something platinum with a diamond, we’ll see what happens. The chemistry class is fine, a very nice, warm, quirky, grandfathery kind of guy is teaching it, and boy does he love teaching. It’ll be a good time, even if it is on Saturday mornings.

But back to the move -- they say bad things come in threes, whether that’s just how we perceive it or luck or what-have-you, who knows. And then I started thinking: I moved into the very first place Sivie & looked at when we moved to Chicago, and it seemed pretty great... until we found out that our landlord didn’t realize that being a landlord actually took work. And got some great pet squirrels and mice in the meantime. Then, instead of trying to find a place on my own last spring, I opted to take Mike’s terrific place in Rogers Park, almost sight unseen, and I loved it. And then the roof leaked enough for me to break a lease after only three months. This time, I got a call from my landlord on Thursday, was told I could break a lease, searched that day for a new place, saw two that night, and I’m going to be taking the first apartment I saw. ...I hope I’m not doomed. :)

There will be a housewarming party... correction, there may be a few housewarming parties, since my new place can seat... oh, let’s say... *five*... people comfortably. :) Yeah, no large potlucks at this place. But a few small ones can’t hurt anything. Details coming in a few weeks. Not like it’ll take me *that* long to set up the teeny place.

But all that said, I’m excited. No matter how much moving bites the big one sometimes, new beginnings are always fun & interesting.

So... I’m going to get back to packing. Hope your ceilings stay dry.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A glimmer of the new me...

Oh man, was it an interesting weekend.

-- I had a drunk (but non-belligerent) 21-yr-old Loyola student practically follow me home late Friday night because the trains all had alternate routes, and he wasn’t sure how to get back home. I decided he didn’t have any reason to try to hurt me, so I let him follow me to the train. The poor thing was kinda helpless.

-- I got hit on by an African immigrant who asked if I was Polish while out wandering the neighborhood on Saturday, and we chatted for a while. Fine, he was nice & respectful, no big deal. But he wanted to date while he went to med school in Poland. (Long distance was obviously not a problem for him.) Even if that hadn’t been an issue, he thought that “I seem so intelligent, why would you want to be a nurse? I just don’t want to have to take orders all the time, so I will be a physician.” And then, “But when will you start your family? They tell us in school that we will have less and less time for our family as time goes on, we are told we should start one now.” I’m not popping out any babies for you right now, sir. And if you’re going to be the type of physician that takes on so many patients that you can’t find time to actually help them all (let alone finding time for your personal life), you are exactly the kind of doctor that made me want to enter the medical profession as a nurse. Thank you very much, no I will not meet you at the Borders down the street tomorrow, no I will not give you my phone number, have a nice day.

But the best part of the weekend? I was a doula!!! (Yes, multiple explanation points are required. I am that excited.)

I will spare you all the gruesome/emotional details, as I'm sure a summary will be just fine for most of you.

It happened so fast. I heard about the mother-to-be on Thursday afternoon, emailed her, Friday morning I got an email back, called her that afternoon to hear that she was in labor, then headed out to Geneva (WAAAY out in the west burbs) in time for the birth. I had never met her before then, so it was a weird way of bonding with someone to say the least. It was a pretty easy birth (though she didn’t think so), so it was a great first experience for me. It was so fantastic. And I even got to teach the mother to breastfeed (although, as my mother corrected me, I taught myself how to teach someone to breastfeed, seeing as I have neither taught someone to breastfeed nor have I breastfed a child myself). And the mother sent me an email:

Thank you so much for being there for me when I was delivering! You were so calm and supportive. You really were extremely helpful to me and I am so happy that you were there. I will email the pic of us soon. If you're comfortable with it, please send me your snail mail address so I can send you an official birth announcement. I still can't believe that I actually gave birth, it was so much hard work it was difficult to maintain a positive attitude during it but you helped so much. You will be a wonderful midwife! My daughter and I thank you immensely!
Thank you SO MUCH!

I feel very warm & fuzzy. :) [sigh]

And for the next few weekends I get to sit in on a childbirth class and rub elbows with a few mothers due in the fall… hopefully I’ll be able to get even more experience! I’m so excited. I’m on my way!

Dream big, everyone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

prerequisites, tests, and root canals

Imbroglio [im-BROHL-yoh] noun:
1. an intricate and confusing interpersonal or political situation
2. an complicated and perplexing state of affairs
3. a confused heap

Now that we've seen my word of the day ...moving on.

As most of you know, I'm getting ready to go back to school, essentially, to be a nurse of sorts. This requires me to take a number of prerequisite classes before I start, since I didn't take hardly any science or math classes for my undergrad theatre degree. (Surprise.) I've taken a few so far. Left to take:

Organic Chemistry
Human Development

Four classes. No problem. Plenty of time to get that done between now and next August. Then I emailed the woman in charge of deciding what classes count, and checked course schedules and course requirements.

I can't take just any stats class, I have to take one specifically for nurses. And the only places that have that class require me to take a college algebra class. So I have to take algebra this year and the specific stat class at Akron U next summer, because that's the only place I can get to between now and then that only has one class requirement instead of two.

In order to take Organic chemistry, I have to take Chem I (and possibly Chem II, unless I find a way out of it, like writing a paper, taking a test, or schtupping the prof, but I'll deal with that halfway through the fall semester). So I have to take Chem I in the Fall so I can take Org Chem in the Spring. In order to take Chem I, I have to have taken college algebra. Which I have to take anyway. Except that I have to take algebra and chem both in the fall to make the timing work, so I'll have to try to test out of the algebra class for the chem class. And then still take the stupid algebra class, anyway, for the stat class.

Human Development is essentially the development of a human being, birth to grave. I found only two colleges I can get to with that specific class. One is Tri-C in Cleveland. The other is University of Phoenix Online. It does count, but is $494 a credit hour for a 3-credit class. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll take Tri-C next summer.

Microbiology must be a 4 credit hour class, and include a lab. No classes like that around here that I can get after work hours, amazingly enough. So Tri-C college in Cleveland next summer it is. Which then means that I now have to take the REALLY expensive Human Development class from friggin' Univ of Phoenix for $1600, because I don't think I can take more than 2 classes in the summer. And I have to plan on possibly having to take Org Chem then, anyway.

So, the grand total:

College Algebra
Chem I
Chem II (or prostitution, whatever)
Organic Chemistry
Human Growth & Development

Seven classes between now and next August. Plus working a 40-hour week (that will hopefully allow for me to pay for all these classes). Whew. No one will see me starting August 27th unless I work with you or you're in class with me... so don't think I've forsaken you. My schedule is just a bit crazy.

Also on my list: volunteering. I figure I should at least have, you know... SEEN a birth before I decide to spend an insane amount of money on learning how to make that my career. I've tried to get some experience over the past year, and midwives are happy to help, but the mothers seem to think birth is a private event or something. And then, if the midwife works at a non-profit, there are confidentiality issues that prevent them from having an unsigned assistant. So it's not been easy. But Monday I spent a few hours after work emailing birth centers, doula services, and other groups, and I think I may have a few leads. So that's good.

I'll be taking a childbirth class in August, for experience and for working toward my doula certification. It will be a good opportunity to network a bit. But it also has its last class on the weekend I was going to visit back home for a huge camp reunion... so the reunion is out. Sad. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

I need to take the GRE exam (ridiculous vocabulary and math be damned), the MAT (an exam that requires me to know a little bit about everything EVER). Hopefully I'll have given myself enough time to study by the end of August. Good luck to me.

I plan on learning Spanish in time for me to put that on my applications. I'll put some learn-Spanish-by-CD lessons on my ipod, and listen on the way into work every morning. That is, every morning I don't feel like studying for the GRE or MAT. I have a commute of an hour and a half from the new place, so there's plenty of time. :)

Ooh, and I get a root canal in August! At least I'll be able to chew on the left side of my mouth again. I hear you're supposed to be able to chew on both sides of your mouth. So that will be exciting.

We're not going to discuss the ratio of money earned to money that must be spent on classes and doctors.

This WILL all be worth it. I know it will, I'm not worried, and I'm not just saying that. The idea that I'll be helping & teaching & empowering women and their families to bring their children into the world in the safest, most caring environment possible makes me... I don't know. I just feel so good about it. I know I want to try to help bring more midwives into Ohio, that's for sure. And I really want to see if I can get involved with a program for lower income, single, or teen mothers. I think that's so important.

On an unrealated note, I'm excited to take my camera to the Taste of Chicago next week. Lots of crazy people and free music, including: Los Lonley Boys, Soul Asylum, John Mayer, and The Black Crowes. Pretty excited for that. :)

Well, anyway... that's that for now. Make it worth it, everyone.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ugh, moving.

I moved! Finally, for cryin' out loud. I feel like I've been talking about moving for months. (Okay, so I *have* been talking about moving for months... whatever.)

"So, Kate, I bet your move went wonderfully smoothly! A great experience, to be sure!"

No, not really.

Wednesday, 6 am: I get up. Get food, shower, put a few last things in a box, nothing out of the ordinary yet. I go to the Uhaul place to get my truck.

8am: The place is supposed to open so I can get my truck in time to get home and meet the movers at my place. They're not open yet, but they probably just haven't gotten themselves up front to open the door.

8:05: not open.

8:10: not open. What's going on? The sign says they open at 8.

8:15: Call the phone number of the location. No answer, surprise. Call the Uhaul 800 number to get info. Purse strap breaks, making holding the purse difficult.

8:20: While on hold with Uhaul, the guy walks up to the front door where I'm standing, unlocks it, walks in, and I follow him. Not a word. No "Sorry you had to wait", or even a "Hello". Nothing. He gets to the counter, I get to the counter, he turns on his computer, and he says, "Yeah?" Um, I'm here to get my truck that I called to confirm yesterday that was an 8am pick up. No big deal. [sigh] I get my truck, think about how much I don't like driving a 17' long vehicle, and start driving back.

8:50: The movers call me, saying they're there. I'm still trying to get home. I tell them I'll be there in 5 minutes.

9:00: Meet the movers (two kids that maybe just graduated high school -- but they look hardy, and they mean I don't have to work too hard before I get to the new place). I show them my stuff, and get them started while I tape up a few last boxes.

10:00: They're not going too fast. I start helping them.

10:30: We were supposed to be leaving for the new place by now. I mention this to one of the guys, ask how overtime works, and then they are surprised when I say that they're supposed to follow me to my new place to unload. I call the landlord to let him know I'll be there late.

11:20: I give the guys the maps, I call the landlord, and we're off. Friggin' finally. I'm tired, since I've been working just as hard as they have been. No big deal, I won't die, I'm a hardy sort.

12:00: At the new place in Rogers Park. I park across the street, where there happens to be an elementary school. I get out of the truck, tell the guys to wait there... then get yelled at by a woman from the school saying that the busses will be coming any minute. I move the truck to the corner, telling her I'll be back to move the truck to the alley after I meet the landlord. I get in, meet up with the landlord to get the keys, and get back to the truck to find the alley.

12:15: Meet the movers in the alley, and we start. I tell them I will at least pay them until 1pm (since I had them until noon), and then we'll talk from there.

1:00: There is NO WAY we will be done until after two. I am WAY too tired and annoyed to discuss this with them at this point. I call my boss, and tell her I won't be in until noon. She tells me I don't need to come in at all. I hesitate, then with her coaxing, I say I'll call in the morning to let her know. I go back to unpacking my stuff.

2:00: Still unpacking.

2:30: The last bit finally gets into the apartment, hooray! We go back to the truck to get the payment code I need to give them. I ask how we should deal with the overtime, they say normally it's a check or cash... I tell them I'll talk to Flip (the manager -- yes, his name is Flip) and ask him about it.

2:40: I'm just barely out of the alley, and Flip calls. He asks how things went, I say fine (I didn't feel like being angry right then), and I ask how to deal with the overtime. He says that if I do a credit card payment I'd have to do it online through eMove again, and it would be confusing (cancelling & reordering), so sending a check is the best way. He says it will be an extra $125. (Ha!) I tell him I'll send it in the mail tomorrow. I have no intention of doing so before I call him again -- that will happen tomorrow when I've had time to regain my brain.

3:15: Return the truck. I think the guy there just doesn't talk much. I leave, and get on the Damen bus going north.

4:00: Get off the Damen bus at Clark (the last stop) and walk over to get on the Clark bus the rest of the way to my place. I look across the street and see an Ace Hardware -- what luck, because I really need a ladder in my new place! I go in, buy the last lightweight little 6' ladder, and walk across the street to get on the bus.

4:20: Bus comes. I try to get on it, but the man looks at me with surprise, and tells me I can't ride a CTA bus with a ladder. ...are you kidding? People take bigger, more cumbersome things on the bus all the time! (I know, I've been one of those people.) I stand there, let the bus leave, and think -- a cab. I must get a cab. I finally get one. Then I try to put the ladder in. It won't fit. Crap. I'm going to have to walk home. I'm going to have to walk home. I'M GOING TO HAVE TO WALK HOME. With a ladder and a broken purse. [sigh] This is not going as smoothly as I had hoped. I'm at Clark & Thorndale. I'm going to have to walk a mile and a half. With a ladder. And a broken purse. I'm so tired.

4:50: Abigail calls. Slight drama at work -- catering for an event tomorrow hasn't been confirmed. We discuss, decide she'll call them in the morning when she gets up for work, since they are already closed for the day. I tell her that there's no way in hell that I'll be in to work tomorrow, but call if she needs me.

5:30: I'm back. Home, at last. I sit and call Amy. Explain my day. She tells me she'll be over in a little bit, after she finishes painting her new kitchen for the day. I hang my cool new bamboo ring-thingies on the living room wall because I'm really excited to see what they look like. Then I try to do a few other things. Not generally succeeding.

7:20: Amy & Dan arrive. By this time, my attention span and memory is that of a gnat's, and I can't really form coherent sentences. My parents call, try really hard to converse with them & Amy & Dan while trying to find things in boxes... really not doing a good job of it. At least I can find dishes. We order Thai food, and eat the strawberry ice cream they brought. I sit for almost an entire half hour (this does me lots of good).

8:00: Food arrives. Not bad, but definitely not impressed. I will need to find a different place to get pad thai next time.

8:30: We rearrange the living room. It's really starting to come together. Oh man, I'm going to Love this place.

9:00: Amy & Dan leave, I take a bath (I have a bathtub!), and go to bed. I sleep REALLY well.

Thursday, 6:15 am: Wake up. [sigh] Old habits die hard. :) Oh, and my throat is kinda swollen. Time for me to take benadryl so my dust allergy doesn't give me a sinus infection. (Stupid sinuses.) Fall back asleep.

7:00: Abigail calls. She can't get a hold of the caterer. We have no idea if we're getting food catered in. It's supposed to be there in 45 minutes. This could get bad. Luckily, she has the phone number for the business' second location. I tell her to call them to have them help, then call me back.

7:40: After a number of phone calls on Abigail's part, catering winds up being fine. Crisis averted.

11:00: Call Flip. Since I don't debate or complain to businesses well, I wind up paying for most of the overtime (but not all). I did have a lot of stuff, and lots of stairs. I wouldn't have minded, but if it was going to take that long I wish I had known. I told him how much stuff I had and how many stairs there were, he should have been able to tell me how long it could take. He's a mover, he knows these things. ...oh well. I don't feel like being angry about it.

Rest of Thursday: Pittering around the place, putting up shelves, putting things away, and everything else that goes with moving. Very happy. The big stuff is all in place, but not the little stuff. I need to figure out how I want to organize this place. At least I have a long weekend before my parents come into town next week.

But now I'm at work. I'm still sore, and tired. At least I like my new place. Here's my new living room:

Housewarming party: Saturday, June 9th. Be there, everyone.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Money... bah.

Money sucks.

...That was a broad, vague statement. Let me explain.

So, my credit has been kind of crappy in the past. ('Kind of crappy' being a technical term for 'extremely bad'.) Chalk it up to being a poor student and artist for a while, and not wanting to own up to even my relatively small credit card bill. Irresponsible, I know. But in the past month I have managed to finish paying off all my bills, checked my credit scores, and got a secured credit card so I can rebuild my credit. Gotta get my credit score up… so I can more easily go into debt for grad school, you know.

And I have a frugal (read: cheap-ass) budget. One that I'm actually sticking to. I'm quite proud.

For those of you who are curious -- I bought ramen noodles. (Go ahead and read that last sentence again if you'd like.)

Anybody need some advice or info on building credit, you know where to go. (Me.)

Money sucks. More.

There's the stigma around us that without lots of money and stuff, we can't be happy. I mean, look at all those happy suits with their pretty sparkly stuff walking down the street during the morning commute! But then, we are told (and we preach) that money can't bring us true happiness, so we push money away to live the 'higher' life and choose our low-paying career. We live the life bohemia, and act as though living on nothing for forever is what we want.

The bottom line: we need money to survive. So if we don't start socking a lot of it away now, we'll have nothing to live on when we get old and can't work as hard any more. I don't plan on having to whine to my future children's family about how I'm broke at 80 years old because I didn't plan ahead and now they have to support me. No way.

Some of you may say – you shouldn't need to save that much! If you have more than you need, give it to those in need! Good point – but no. I'm planning ahead. If I've saved enough, I can still live frugally when I'm old, and donate in my will. And those of you who say 'donate now, people need it now, quit hoarding' – well, my hoarded money will gain interest, so I'll have more to donate if I save it for decades. I'll be able to give more away. Well -- that is, as long as I keep myself in check. If I don't, then go ahead and call me a selfish old creep when I'm 80.

On a separate note, if anyone needs to crash on a couch in town, I'll have my own place starting June 1st. Woo-hoo! (And if anyone has a couch they want to get rid of, I could use one.)

I'm kinda feeling a little adult-like. And I can't say I mind. …weird.

Happy adult-ing, everyone.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Procrastination: musings on the imminent Hallmark Holiday

Ah, Valentine's Day. A day for lovers. A day for loved ones. A day for that chubby naked kid to fly around hitting people with heart-tipped pink and red arrows.

I, unlike some, do not dislike this upcoming day.

A friend once said to me: why is it always about marriage? Everytime you go on a date or talk about someone you are dating, you talk about how you can or cannot see yourself married to him. Why is that your focus? I replied: Well, it's not my total focus. But I don't want to date someone mean, disrespectful, or dumb. That would be annoying. So anyone I do date is nice, respectful, and intelligent. Which means they are decent. Which means 'marriage material', so to say, by default.

One said: I don't know how you do it. You date someone, and are unafraid to just dive in. You get great love, but when you fall, you fall hard. I just can't do that. I just can't believe that it's going to work.

Friends sometimes ask about 'the boy situation'. Last Sunday, I told my dad, "Oh, I just don't feel like dealing with it right now, putting effort or energy into that sort of thing." Because when I do date someone, it's with a purpose. Not casually. I just see no point in that.

I have had the fortune to have dated two wonderful men in my life so far. I loved them dearly, and still do in my way. I'm sure the feelings were (and still are, in their way) returned. But it's hard to crash after something like that.

What I have figured out? That two people can love each other, think the world of each other, and still not end up together. I don't get it, and don't completely understand why, but it's true. Some people think that just because they care for each other -- well, of course they should marry. But I don't think that should be the case. One person -- or both -- should be able to say 'I adore you, and think you're great, but I just can't see myself married to you'. Sure, it's hard -- for both people. It hurts to be dumped, and it hurts to know you're hurting someone you love. And although it seems like a personal attack, it's not -- though it kind of is, but kind of not... in a weird way I don't think I can explain. And it may be that neither person can put a finger on what the thing is, but that doesn't matter. You may never be able to put the reason into words. That's okay. Life will go on. And someone else will come along, because that's how it works.

But you'd better be able to say 'no' if you're not sure, because you need to live with the choice. You have to be sure when you choose. It won't always be great. There will be bad days. Horrible weeks. Off months. There will probably be entire years that seem like things aren't quite right. There will be disagreements over where to eat dinner, what color couch to buy, whose past is coming back to haunt them, how to save for retirement, who is having the mid-life crisis, how to raise the kids, whose home to visit this year during the holidays. It ebbs and flows. You have to be choosy, because you aren't just choosing someone you want by your side. You are also choosing the person you would rather most to have to disagree with. You are choosing the person with whom you will want to always work things out... even when you kind of don't want to, or you would really just rather have your own way. But you've chosen to always make things work in the end with this person. Not everyone you fall for will be that person.

I'm not going to rush myself. And I don't feel like being stressed out over finding my someone. I will not roll over and die if I'm not married with children by the time I'm 30. In fact, the idea still is a bit weird, no matter how many of my friends are jumping on the marriage bandwagon. But I will dive in when presented with an opportunity. It's the only way to find out what's ahead. As emotionally unstable a situation as it is.

Many singles hate Valentine's Day. Some wear black and sneer at happy couples on the street. I refuse to hate this holiday. I take this day to celebrate past loves, current loves, and future loves.

Cheesy? Sure. Hopeful? Of course. But true & sincere, nonetheless. there. :)

Be unafraid to love, everyone.