Monthly Archives: June 2013

child care

I spend my vacation time with my family in Oregon. Many people spend their vacation on cruises, and while that does appeal to me, I am lucky enough to have a family that I love being around. When I get a break, I want to be with them. Now that I have a three year old nephew, my time at home is less about my own rest and relaxation and more about spending time with my nephew.

During his first year of life, we got in some good bonding time. Now, it only takes a few seconds before we’re back where we were after being apart for months. He’s at an age now where he’s an absolute joy (though he has always been a joy to me). At bedtime, he’s very chatty. Yes, he’s stalling to avoid bedtime, but these conversations have been wonderful. We both muse over things like what the dog is barking at and whether or not he’ll need to “feed cows” in the morning.

I’ve really been enjoying being around him and am completely dreading the day when I have to drive back to Utah. I think it will be best for both of us that I’ll be back and forth a little bit this summer. Hopefully this will show him that goodbye is not for impossibly long periods of time.

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home

As soon as I submit grades, I’m outta here! I haven’t been home for six months, and that’s too long when you have a nephew who is quickly outgrowing his toddler status. We used to talk on the phone at least once a week. Now, because of their new living situation, I’ve only talked to him about twice in the last two months. I know he will be shy at first, but I’m hoping we can quickly move past that and have a great time together. I’ll come bearing a few gifts. I even downloaded a few apps for three-year olds–even though I never use apps myself.

Although I am looking forward to the break, I’m not sure what it will be like when I go home to visit family. It is hard to admit because it is private, but things have been difficult at home. It might just be that I’ve been gone for awhile, and so I start to worry about everyone’s wellbeing. Or, it could also be that my worries are accurate, and my loved ones are, indeed, struggling. It can be hard to walk into their dynamic after being gone for six months, and that makes me sad. I used to be such an integral part of that dynamic. When I lived in Washington, I was never gone for more than three or four months at a time. Now that I live further away, I can’t come home as frequently. Mostly, I worry that my nephew needs me. I worry that he will have a hard time remembering me. Obviously, I worry about a lot of things.

I am ready for a break, though. It’s been a really difficult summer semester. I’ve taught two new course preps (with relatively little prep time), and had to fill two hours of instruction, five days a week with quality content. In hindsight, I can see that I overcompensated and talked too much in class this semester. It was more than a little challenging. Add an unnecessarily stressful work project on top of that, and you’ve got a person (me), who is more than ready to hit the road.

In the next few days, I’ll do my best to frantically grade portfolios, calculate grades, pack, and kiss my guy goodbye for a little while in hopes that he’ll keep my plants alive. My time at home is always rejuvenating. There are gardens to weed, raspberries, sheep to shear, chores to do, nephews to kiss, food to prepare, and family to enjoy it with–all things I love. When I get back, I hope to have a gazillion pictures to post.

patio gardening

There’s something you must know about me: I love to garden. My parents always kept a very large garden and enjoyed it throughout the summer and put up food for the winter. Sometimes, they kept two large gardens. And, there were always additional raspberry, garlic, and herb gardens too. That’s not even to mention the multiple orchards that my dad tends. So, yeah, I like to garden. It’s in my blood.

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patio gardening with topsy turvies

When I was a little girl, I stole a bean and grew it in a cup in my windowsill. That bean grew until it ran out of space. Maybe it was transferred to the garden. Maybe it was tossed. Maybe I let it die. I don’t remember what happened to it. But, ever since I moved out of my parents’ home, I’ve kept houseplants–though I don’t love houseplants as much as I love gardening. Like my mother, I like expressive plants that change with the seasons, produce, die, or live, but change.

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patio gardening: wave petunias

I’ve also taken every opportunity I’ve had to grow something on a patio. When I was an undergrad, I  grew daisies in a small plot of soil by my apartment patio. Those daisies were amazing! I wish I could remember the variety. They really thrived. A year after I moved out, I went back and saw that they were still there, but unattended, unwatered, and smaller. They are probably long gone now, years later.

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patio gardening: strawberry

I still wish I had more space for gardening, but I’m making use of what I have: a patio, a shaded back patio, and some shaded, rock hard soil that’s mostly clay. Despite these setbacks, I’ve actually been able to grow quite a few plants this summer, and they seem to be flourishing. An enormous tree was recently removed from my back patio, so the space that was once completely shaded is now only partially shaded. That means I can grow a few things, but since the tree was only removed a few weeks ago, it’s really too late to grow anything too substantial. I’ve got a few sunflowers going back there, and that’s only because I already had the seed.

 

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patio gardening: cherry tomatoes

Maybe next year I’ll be able to do more with the space. But, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll even be here next year. I’m a home body who would love nothing more than to have a space to live long-term, a space that included lots of room for gardening, but that’s not my situation. I’ve never imagined myself as someone who lived in the city permanently, and yet right now, that doesn’t seem like such a stretch.

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planter box zucchini

that was a long one

This weekend was the longest labor that I’ve attended so far. Recently there was a  discussion on the local birth forum about attending long labors. Doulas reported attending labors that were up to two and even three days long! The births I’ve attended so far have been about 8-10 hours, which includes some postpartum time and breastfeeding support. A few have progressed really rapidly once they got started.

I’m trying to sign up as a volunteer for at least two days a month, so I signed up at the beginning of this weekend. I figured that would give me lots of time to recover for school on Monday if I did get called in for a long labor. Sure enough, shortly after I was on call, the midwife called to let me know I was needed at the hospital. There was no rush, so I had some food and got ready. I’m glad I took the extra time because I ended being there for nearly 24 hours. (Note: 24 hours is well within the normal range for labor. Labor differs for every woman with every baby. When I volunteer, the labors are usually shorter just because I get called rather late in the process–after the mother has arrived at the hospital, gotten settled, and then requested a doula.)

Though  it was long, it was a good experience. Time usually flies by when I am working as a doula. I don’t notice the long hours, but I do notice myself getting tired in the wee hours of the morning. Also, since I got back home, my legs have been sore and tired from being on them for so long. My upper arms and shoulders are also sore for doing counter pressure. But, that wasn’t something I noticed during the actual labor.

Some doulas attend 4-6 births each month. These women are really good at what they do, and they’re doing it to make a living. Like the times before, this labor was a good experience for me. I learned a lot. It was challenging, but I enjoyed every minute of it. However, I’ve noticed that I only have the energy for about one labor per month. I think that’s because I have a “day job,” a career, that I like very much and spend a lot of time with–mentally and physically. After the last time, I wasn’t quite ready to attend another labor until about three weeks later. So, I’m going to pace myself. For now, volunteering once or twice will be about right, I think.

stress baking: raised breads edition

Work has been stressful. Summer session is always really intense. Add two new course preps and a project on top of that and you’ve got…someone who needs to bake.

Growing up, my mom always baked the bread that we used. There was no better treat than a warm slice of buttered bread straight from the oven.

Over the past week or so, I’ve decided to tackle raised breads for the first time. I started with a pizza crust because I had a craving for margarita pizza. It turned out like this:

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my first pizza!

It was good because anything is good if it’s slathered in mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil. However, the crust functioned only as a vehicle to get said cheese, tomatoes, and basil into my mouth. I used regular wheat flour, and the crust was still too thin and too crunchy and not very tasty. In the future, I’ll buy some better quality flour to improve the flavor, but I’m not quite sure how to get the crusts to raise. I think I’m over handling the dough, but I’m not sure how else to spread it over the pizza pan. Maybe I’m spreading it to thin?

Next up, I attempted a pizza crust with gluten-free flour. It was disgusting. There was no rise to it and the flavor was a little worse than blah. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photographic evidence of the g.f. pizza crust to prove how ugly it was.

After that I tried another makeshift pizza. This was going to be an olive and asiago cheese loaf, but I turned it into sort of a pizza thing, and it was really tasty. I still want to make some kind of green olive and cheese loaf because: yes. Here is a picture of the pizza on olive and cheese crust:

experimental pizza on green olive and cheese loaf dough

experimental pizza on green olive and cheese loaf dough

Lastly, I made a loaf of gluten-free bread using the oven recipe on the back of Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix (and added a few secret ingredients that my mama taught me!) and it actually turned out! The dough rose and then rose some more when I baked it, and now I have a loaf of bread that I’ve been using for sandwiches and eating toasted with butter. Here’s a picture:

first g.f. loaf of bread

first g.f. loaf of bread

Tonight, I’m trying pizza with wheat flour dough again, and it already looks like I’m going to have a problem with a flat crust. Wish me luck!