Thursday, July 31, 2008

Family portrait

Blog page changes:

Go to the bottom of the page to see the new family portrait.

And at the bottom of the left bar are some videos of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince trailers.

Earthquake damage

OK, here are the pictures you have been waiting for.

I *knew* I heard the sound of glass breaking when I ran down the hallway. I looked all over the house, but didn't find this until later in the evening.

There might have been a crack in the concrete leading to the pool stairs before, but it is now wider and offset in a small stair-step. There are numerous other hairline cracks in the concrete patio as well, that either appeared or widened.

And this corner lifter up further. I will have to call a company to smooth it down so the kids don't stub their toes. This is the exact point they jump off from when jumping into the deep area in the middle of the pool.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Here is another one that made me laugh.
cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Earthquake recollections

Sorry, no pictures today. I didn't feel like taking any. Too fresh, too nervous. But here is what happened.

Around 11:30am I was organizing my closet upstairs when the shaking started. Little shaking at first, but I decided to start running to the baby's room in case it got bigger. It DID. As I rounded the corner in the bedroom the house started banging and moving side to side hard. I have educated myself about earthquakes, so when I saw the bedroom door flapping closed and open as I approached it, I was not surprised. I grabbed it mid-swing and ran through. I turned left and sprinted down the hall to the baby's room. The problem was, that the upstairs hall is more of a balcony. There is a full rail the length of it and it hangs over the hard tile of the downstairs entryway. The house was really moving as I ran and the hall looked bent as it moved. As I ran I heard a crashing to my right when the chandelier over the staircase swung into the wall 3 feet away from it. I entered the baby's room, thanking myself for securing the bookcases into the wall studs, grabbed the baby up from a sound sleep and turned to go out. The house had settled down. Miss I met me at the bottom of the stairs and we decided to go out and gather our wits in the backyard. The pool water had waves about 18 inches high, and the water was sloshing out of the pool. The phone started ringing as people called to check on us. I found a lot of new cracks in the concrete patio in the back yard. I don't see any cracks in the pool itself. Miss I was downstairs and said she saw the ground rolling in waves. Later when I went back upstairs I found a lamp in my bedroom on its side. A lot of upstairs drawers were open. The bathroom drawers were all open about 4 inches. Most of the heavy file drawers in the office were open about 8 inches. And the kids' clothing drawers were open about 8 inches.

The neighborhood grocery store is closed, too. Which is a bummer because I really need taco shells, or my dinner is going to be a little lacking. Oh well. We have to do the best we can, right?

The Walmart was open, and I bought 12 gallons of water for our earthquake kit. I was pretty embarrassed to realize that here was another important thing I had put off for tomorrow. What if the water mains had cracked and my huge family had nothing to drink! :-(

Monday, July 28, 2008

Money Belt

I just ordered a money belt online for my daughter today. She leaves in mid August to go to Rome for 4 months for her semester abroad. She will be studying classical Roman stuff and the Italian language.

Since I can't be there to control the situation and keep her safe, I'm getting her the money belt. Hopefully being careful with her money and passport will help. It is hard for me as a mom to put on my happy smile and send her across the world on her own, but I know that she is up to the challenge.

So I looked for a cartoon to show how nervous I am, but I came across this one that made me laugh instead.
cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Paper Photo Albums

I decided to start the long-procrastinated task of assembling the family photo album yesterday. What shocked me was how easy and cheap it was. Remember the old days when all our pictures had to be sent to the photo place and we paid $8 for the whole roll but only got maybe 4 good pictures? Those days are GONE! And I thought things were better with digital pictures, but I became disappointed with the ink jet photo prints. Sticky, runny pictures that didn't look right.

My good friend and neighbor, L, came to the rescue again. She told me she emails her pictures to Costco or Walmart for prints. I went onto the Costco website and decided to do a set of test pictures. I got 25 free prints for just signing up. And I uploaded 60 pics to print, which, going from the present back in time took me to around January 2007. I dug up a blank photo album and put the pictures in from back to front. Then last night I sent another 80-something pictures for printing, bringing me back to last Fall/Summer. And that emptied out the downstairs computer, which has been acting a little funny lately. I was concerned about losing my pictures, but now I feel a whole lot better. If something goes wrong down there I have all the best pictures printed in the album and stored on the Costco website.

Oh, and did I mention the price? The 60 pictures from yesterday, at 17 cents per print, came out to around $10, a little over $5 with the discount. I'm SO excited to be paying what I used to pay for one roll, getting our best pictures printed spanning months and months. Now the little boys are able to leaf through the pictures and see themselves and their family. I was beginning to think my blog was the only collection of photos I was going to have. Now I plan on keeping this up until I get all the way back to the year 2000 when I got my first digital camera. Then I will dig through the pile of old photos from before that and put them into albums until it is all DONE. Whew!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I'm Just Wild About Harry

Is it me, or is November 21, 2008 getting closer and closer. Did you know that the 6th movie of the Harry Potter series will be released on that date? I Can't Wait! Here is a link to some movie pics:
Harry Potter movie pics

And in book news, the third book of the Eragon series is due out on September 20, 2008. We are on the second book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy right now, but we will be taking a break to read this book when it comes.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

No more Flash Cards!

I hated multiplication tables as a child and I hate them today. I learned them. But it was one of the memorably awful experiences of my childhood education. And it has been a particularly unpleasant challenge for my son, who has a learning disability that makes it even tougher.

A friend of mine told me that her daughter really loves doing this new computer game that teaches the multiplication facts called Timez Attack. I checked it out and it is a ton of fun. All you do is a Google search for Times Attack and you can download the free version of the software. The free version will take you all the way from 2x2 up to 12x12. If you want more bells and whistles, you can order the full version, which has you battling Ogres in a dungeon, dragons in a lava cave, and robots in a machine world. The battles consist of the child answering multiplication questions to conquer the opponent. It is addictive. Today my son asked me to play it. And tonight we don't have to do math flash cards!

Friday, July 18, 2008

We need to avoid uterine surgery if possible

If we want to retain our fertility, that is. This is one of those subjects I feel SO strongly about, but I don't get the chance to jump onto my soapbox. Why? Because this is a VERY touchy subject. Surgical uterine intervention is often emotional. D&Cs and Cesarean Sections are often criticized, so women feel defensive at the mere mention of it. Although most of the D&Cs that I am aware of occurred after a miscarriage, which is a HORRIBLE time in the life of a woman. A time when a woman is in so much physical and emotional pain. She is very vulnerable. When a woman learns that she is carrying her dead baby the shock and horror defy description. Doctors are human too, and they see our pain, and they want to "save" us from it. They want to make it go away as quickly as possible. There is a problem with that. Asherman's Syndrome. This is where residual scar tissue within/around the uterus prevents subsequent pregnancies. I looked it up in Wikipedia.
The cavity of the uterus is lined by the endometrium. This lining is composed of two layers, the functional layer which is shed during menstruation and an underlying basal layer which is necessary for regenerating the functional layer. Trauma to the basal layer, typically after a dilation and curettage (D&C) performed after a miscarriage, or delivery, or for elective abortion can lead to the development of intrauterine scars resulting in adhesions which can obliterate the cavity to varying degrees. In the extreme, the whole cavity has been scarred and occluded. Even with relatively few scars, the endometrium may fail to respond to estrogens and rests. Often, patients experience secondary menstrual irregularities characterized by changes in flow and duration of bleeding (amenorrhea, hypomenorrhea, or oligomenorrhea) [1] and becomes infertile. Menstrual anomalies are often but not always correlated with severity: adhesions restricted to only the cervix or lower uterus may block menstruation. Pain during menstruation and ovulation are also sometimes experienced, and can be attributed to blockages.
Asherman's syndrome occurs most frequently after a D&C is performed on a recently pregnant uterus, following a missed or incomplete miscarriage, birth, or elective termination (abortion) to remove retained products of conception/placental remains. As the same procedure is used in all three situations, Asherman's can result in all of the above circumstances. It affects women of all races and ages as there is no underlying predisposition or genetic basis to its development. According to a study on 1900 patients with Asherman’s syndrome, over 90% of the cases occurred following pregnancy-related curettage [2]. It is estimated that up to 5% of D&Cs result in Asherman's. More conservative estimates put this rate at 1%. Asherman's results from 25% of D&Cs performed 1-4 weeks post-partum [3][4][5], 30.9% of D&Cs performed for missed miscarriages and 6.4% of D&Cs performed for incomplete miscarriages. [6] In the case of missed miscarriages, the time period between fetal demise and curettage increases the likelihood of adhesion formation to over 30.9% [2][7]The risk of Asherman's also increases with the number of procedures: one study estimated the risk to be 16% after one D&C and 32% after 3 or more D&Cs [8].
Depending on the degree of severity, Asherman's syndrome may result in infertility, repeated miscarriages, pain from trapped blood, and high risk pregnancies [9]. There is evidence that left untreated, the obstruction of menstrual flow resulting from scarring can lead to endometriosis[5].
Asherman's can also result from other pelvic surgeries including Cesarean sections[2], removal of fibroid tumours (myomectomy) and from other causes such as IUDs, pelvic irradiation, schistosomiasis[10] and genital tuberculosis[11]. Chronic endometritis from genital tuberculosis is a significant cause of severe IUA in the developing world, often resulting in total obliteration of the uterine cavity which is difficult to treat [12].
An artificial form of Asherman's syndrome can be surgically induced by endometrial ablation in women with excessive uterine bleeding, in lieu of hysterectomy.

My purpose in mentioning this is to educate. I pray that you are never faced with this. But if you find yourself in the situation of a miscarriage, PLEASE consider waiting to miscarry naturally. Of course there are times for surgical intervention. But remember. You never know *which* D&C will be your last.

Here is part of an article from TimesOnline.
Rebecca McAra went through £1,000 of tests over a 12-month period before discovering that she had Asherman’s, caused by a D&C carried out after a miscarriage. “I was so traumatized when I lost my baby that when I was offered a D&C I jumped at the chance, thinking it was the quickest and easiest option. I wish I had been told that a snap decision made in a hospital scanning room might irreparably compromise my fertility.

“I could have waited to see if the full miscarriage occurred naturally but was told this could take up to a month. I wasn’t informed about medication as an alternative to uterine surgery, nor about the risk of developing Asherman’s if I had a D&C.” Having undergone hystero-scopic surgery to remove uterine scar tissue, McAra is now trying to conceive again. Professor Ledger believes that hospitals should routinely warn women that there is a risk of developing Asherman’s if they opt for surgery. “The NHS is very hot on producing leaflets about anything and everything but few women are informed about Asherman’s.”

And Cesarean Sections can be a problem for future conception. Here is a quote from Web MD:
The study involved 283 women who completed questionnaires roughly three years after delivering their first child by cesarean section or vaginal delivery using forceps or vacuum pump. Three quarters of the women who said they wanted a second child achieved a pregnancy during that time. But the women who had vaginal deliveries were twice as likely to have conceived as those who had cesarean sections,

This is from Childbirth Connections:
# Future reproductive problems for mothers: A cesarean section in this pregnancy puts a woman at risk for future reproductive problems in comparison with a woman who has a vaginal birth. These problems may involve serious complications and medical emergencies. The likelihood of experiencing some of these conditions goes up sharply as the number of previous cesareans increases. These problems include:

* ectopic pregnancy: pregnancies that develop outside her uterus or within the scar
* reduced fertility, due to either less ability to become pregnant again or less desire to do so
* placenta previa: the placenta attaches near or over the opening to her cervix
* placenta accreta: the placenta grows through the lining of the uterus and into or through the muscle of the uterus
* placental abruption: the placenta detaches from the uterus before the baby is born
* rupture of the uterus: the uterine scar gives way during pregnancy or labor.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Google Me!

I'm conducting an experiment. Instead of clicking on a bookmark or link to access this blog, see if you can remember to type mainfo into your Google search box in the browser. I want to see if my blog can get higher in ranking than the Massachusetts government pages.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Horseback Riding Class

Horseback riding is also a favorite pastime this summer for my 9-y-o boy. He has been taking classes every Saturday, and will cap off the summer with a 4-day horse camp the last week of August. I feel happy to pass on the love of horses to my kids. My Mom loves horses and so do I. As a kid, I worked as a guide at a riding stable in Northern California. I read lots of horse books, too. And I have included some of those books in my son's bedtime stories. He has a way with animals and babies/children. He has a kind heart.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Home Movie Epiphany

I have gone through a change for the better recently. I don't know exactly what triggered it. But I think it is a combination of my Chicago vacation and watching the home movies. Why and how? Let's see. My husband noticed a change in me immediately when I came back from Chicago. It is hard to describe. Chipper. More up. More there. Living in the moment. More focused on goals. More focused on the house and the people in it. Less time on the computer. Motivated internally to organize closets, paperwork, the garage and surfaces all over the house to bring more serenity to the house. Clutter = Chaos. Decluttering and giving away/throwing away what is no longer needed is so freeing. Freeing up space so we can live. Getting in touch with my best potential as a self/person, wife and mother. For example, seeing the importance of scheduling a professional portrait of the children and not putting it off for a "more convenient time" that hasn't come along in the past 7 years.

I am also re-picking up a book that I had started but set aside. It is called Bad Childhood, Good Life by Dr. Laura Schlesinger. I wonder what percentage of people would put themselves in the category of having had a Bad Childhood. I bet a lot. I think it is part of the human condition. Most parents fall short. I know I have fallen short for my kids. Not all the way. But I have. I am reading it carefully because I want to continue this roll that I'm on. Shedding past regrets and blame and moving on to claim my birthright. My right to the American Dream. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Gleaning information that I can pass on to my kids to help them shed the burdens of our imperfect parenting so they can move on to their best potential.

So I watched the movies of my family's past. I saw my parents. Boy were they good-looking. My brothers and I were adorable, calm children. My grandparents were alive again, smiling and waving to the camera. Yes, the camera came out at the happiest times, parties and the like. But even looking through a window into those times was like being washed in an entire ocean's worth of water. A full cleansing of all the intervening years and a feeling of getting in touch with one's roots. Rebirth. Seeing the good in our family. The love and life lessons that my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents sought to instill in us for the generations. Yes, our family is a little nutty and offbeat. But we have a lot of good in us, too. And I feel WAY more in touch with that now, and the strength of my roots.

My husband and his mother watched all of their family's films over here last weekend. He got the projector working and they watched film reel after film reel, unable to stop until, apparently, 5am. I watched a few of the films before heading up to bed much earlier. What I saw was awesome. My MIL was THIN and BEAUTIFUL. 8*) My husband was a very cute, energetic boy. The firstborn. We saw his parent's wedding and honeymoon. Their 5 kids' birth/homecomings. Swim classes. Barbecues. In the morning my husband confided to me some less pleasant memories that were dredged up by some of the films, and I was able to comfort him. It felt good to be able to do that. Salve some of the hurts that went back 30 years. Validation and understanding. Now we can move forward. And I saw a change in him. He became more focused on his parenting. Doing even more for the kids than he usually does. Grinding food and feeding the baby during dinner. I talked to MIL this week and she says she is also changed by watching the films. She had felt stalled in her weight loss and now she feels new ambition. She says that she has felt overweight her whole life. She never thought of herself as beautiful. And now she sees herself in the movies, a beautiful young woman. An epiphany.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Belated 4th of July photos

Here are some pics I took from our deck on the 4th of July. There were several fireworks shows visible from our back yard. I usually like to go to the shows to see the fireworks up close, but this year we decided to take it easy at home.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jujitsu Class

Here is another place we are spending time this summer. The jujitsu dojo. The little guy has a flair for wrestling. This style of jujitsu has a lot of grappling in it. And they give the kids a big workout for a warm-up. He loves it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Swim Class

I love swim class pictures. Bright blue water. So refreshing. Makes ya wish you were a kid again, huh?

The pictures are posted from youngest to oldest. I ordered matching swim trunks and rash guard swim shirts from an Australian company called Coolibar. Did I mention my 5-y-o is allergic to all sun screen lotions? He breaks out in hives/welts. And he is so fair. I make them wear matching blue floppy hats to walk from the car to the pool and back. Except for the older boy, who has a more olive complexion. But I still make him wear the long sleeve shirt because I will need it as a hand-me-down for the boys. 6 weeks of swim class in the noonday sun made me take extra measures to protect them.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Sitting Up

Well, maybe not all by himself for longer than 10 seconds, but he does great in the Boppy Pillow. And he loves looking at the camera.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Skinny Cow

I like cold food in the summer. Specifically Popsicles and Fudgcicles and the like. And I *don't* like Diet Food. I don't eat/drink foods with Aspartame or Saccharin. If I want a diet drink, I'll drink cold water.

And I like chocolate. Costco has started carrying cases of frozen confections by a company called Skinny Cow. The ice cream sandwich is 140 calories (2 points) and has 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein. The mini fudge bars are 50 calories per bar, 0.5 grams fiber, 0.5 grams fat, 1.5 grams protein. The first ingredient on the list is skim milk. These are great between-meal treats for me. I stay very happy when I'm able to eat tasty treats and still hold steady on the scale in the morning.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

garage workbench

I did a lot of work straightening up the garage. There is still so much to do. The portion I just did recently was the workbench and tool boxes. I got some organizer bins from Home Depot because the worst part about doing projects was trying to find tools. The bottom of the tool box had become a spiny mass of nails/screws. And the bench itself was piled high with stuff. The reality is that if the tools are not organized and accessible then it is as if we own nothing. Now I know were everything is from lost screw drivers, drill bits and even the smallest screws, tacks, and picture hangers.
I saw an old sign that I loved but didn't put up in my kitchen, so it went in the garage. Can you see it over the workbench? It reads "this is a self cleaning kitchen. Clean up after yourself."