Monday, February 8, 2016

SLP grad school and parenting

I am just into my third semester of grad school and my first semester of clinical practicum in grad school for Speech-Language Pathology. At this point, I am terrified of writing. I'm pretty sure everything I write is ungrammatical (crap, is that a word?). Therefore, I am reviving my blog. Not that anyone reads it, but hey it's fun for me. Fun for me to write and not be graded.

So what have I learned in grad school?  The list is so long..... no really, my brain is swarming with brand new knowledge. But here's the most important thing I've REMEMBERED while in grad school. We can all do hard things when we put our minds to it. We are stronger than we imagine, more capable than we think. The challenges that we face are also opportunities to develop strengths.

Being a mom and going to grad school is hard. It would have been easier to just go to grad school and not worry about balancing being a student with my role as a mom. BUT, I have some skills as a mom, and knowledge I didn't have before I was a mom. I can empathize with my client's parents in ways I could not have before I became a parent myself. I also have more perspective now. There is always something bigger in my life than school, my daughter. At the end of the day when my brain is fried and I'm sure I am a terrible student or that I wrote a crap paper, she's there. Wanting to play dolls, or trains or asking me to be an airplane with her. So we run around acting like airplanes, laughing, having fun, and I forget about that paper and I remember what really matters.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bee Hiatus and parenting

For the third year in a row our bees have died over the winter, so we've decided to take a break from beekeeping. It wasn't a super hard choice, because it has gotten expensive to keep buying packages of bees each year, and honestly I find I'd rather spend my time doing activities that our kid can enjoy with us, and right now beekeeping is not one of those things. I really love beekeeping, but it's time for a little break. I'm pretty sure in a couple years we'll try again.

Before I had a child I was sure I wouldn't become that parent whose world revolved around their child. Now?.... well now I'm not sure why I thought that was a bad thing, at least, our brand of it! I enjoy spending time with my kid, she's fun and it's a joy to watch her learn about the world around her. We go to playgroups, swim class, the playground; as a stay at home mom my day kinda revolves around her. Now I'm not saying she is the only thing (person) that matters, but right now she's pretty much at the top of the "Things and People In My World That Matter" list. It's funny how unimportant certain things have become. Some things we don't do anymore, like sleeping in and beekeeping, but for most pastimes and hobbies we really enjoy, we've found ways to make it work.

Now let me make things clear, we didn't stop living our lives or stop doing all the things we enjoy. We've simply found ways to integrate her into our lives. She goes hiking and canoeing with us, she's been camping, snowshoeing, and she likes to eat dirt and dig while we garden. A couple days ago, we brought her to a hockey game, and she lasted the entire game, I would even say she enjoyed it! Road trips? She's been there done that! No toddler tunes here, she head bangs to megadeth and relaxes with Ravel.  If it's time to clean I give her her own little rag and she waves it across the floor. Time to fold laundry? She gets her own little pile to fling about. So yeah, my life revolves around her, but it's fair to say her life revolves around me, and I gotta say, I'm loving it!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cancer free... 6 months and that self-worth thing..

A couple weeks back I had my 6 month post-op endocrinologist appointment. She did an ultrasound and verified that no thyroid tissue has grown back and I was officially declared cancer- free. Which sounds strange because it didn't quite seem like I had cancer at all. The surgery was a pain, but after a couple weeks I was pretty much recovered. The cancer-free news was good news, welcome news.

Life without a thyroid isn't much different than life with a broken thyroid. My hormone levels have been off for a long time. Since the surgery they remain off. It's frustrating, I take my medication the same time, same way, every day, but the hormone levels fluctuate like crazy, and life with wonky thyroid hormones is annoying, as shit, really, but I work with it. I refuse to have a pity party about all the shitty things this entails, but I will talk about the hardest thing for me to handle. Because, frankly, it's scary sometimes. My memory sucks, so I put EVERYTHING in my iPhone, literally all playdates, appts, to do's... they all go in there, and I manage to make it to most everything. I can't remember words to things I use all the time... like hamper, or oven, or bag. Literally cannot find the word in my brain. I sometimes lose my train of thought in the middle of a sentence, which entails using lots of ummms...... Making me seem, I'm sure, like a total flake. Let me tell you why this is the hardest part for me.

I'm not a person who cares about looks, I know that looks are fleeting, and somehow I have managed to not build my self-worth on what I look like. It's a fabulous feeling, I can freely admit I'm fat, it doesn't hurt, it's not who I am. Clothes? Do they cover my body and feel comfortable? Great that's all I need. Stuff? I don't care about stuff, or what brand name my stuff is, or where I bought it. I care that it works, it's clean, and sturdy. In a society where self-worth is built on looks, clothes, things... it's incredibly freeing to know that none of those things, or the lack of them have an impact on how I feel about me. But you know what my self-worth is built on? My intelligence, my wit, my personality, and sometimes when I fumble for a word I feel like I'm losing that. Like somehow the goods part of me, the parts I'm proud of, might be slipping away, and maybe one day.... they might not be there anymore.

There's not too much I can do that I'm not already doing, except....try to find other things I like about myself. Things that hypothyroidism doesn't affect...  AND....

Most importantly, I can help my daughter build her self worth on a solid foundation, because knowing that you are awesome regardless of what you wear, or how your hair is done, or what car you drive feels amazing.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Total Thyroidectomy and Breastfeeding

We found this stupid lump when I was pregnant, but there wasn't much we could do about it at the time, so we all agreed to wait until after Jodene came. I literally just pretended it wasn't there for months.

A month or so after she came I had a biopsy and we all agreed the thyroid should come out. At the surgical consult for my thyroidectomy I explained to the surgeon that I'd still be breastfeeding when I had surgery. He said I'd have to pump and dump for 48 hours. At the time surgery was weeks away and we were hopeful that Jodene would be taking a bottle by July. At about 5 weeks before surgery she was consistently refusing a bottle, so I started researching and found some great resources that suggested maybe I didn't need to pump and dump for that long, or even at all. I didn't find many stories of nursing mom's having surgery, so I figured I'd put this out there.

About 3 weeks before my surgery I contacted the hospital I'd be having surgery at and asked about breastfeeding after surgery and having my daughter with me overnight in the hospital. I was transferred multiple times, and given a lot of incorrect information. I'd have to pump and dump for anywhere from 1-2 days. My daughter wouldn't be allowed on the floor, I couldn't have her with me prior to surgery, etc.. I was pretty upset and I called the patient advocacy office for the hospital and asked about their policy for nursing moms who need to have surgery.

I got an entirely different response. They got me in touch with the hospital lactation consultant and the nurse manager for the center for women and infants. They were both amazing. The nurse manager from the center for women and infant's helped negotiate with the nurse manager for the surgical recovery floor so we'd have a private room so Jodene wouldn't be keeping a roomate awake, and the lactation consultant helped me research the medications I'd be getting to make sure they were compatible with breastfeeding. The moral here is talk to the right people and don't take no for an answer.

There were some bumps along the way, including the pre-admissions folks, the surgeon, and the anesthesiologist. But with a combo of niceness, determination, and information I was able to get them to agree.

My total thyroidectomy was July 11, and we were able to have Jodene with me and nursing up until wheeling me into the OR, successfuly breastfeed in the recovery room, and have Jodene with me and nursing all through the night and day. It was amazingly sucessful.

 I woke up in recovery and the nurse asked if I was feeling up to nursing. I asked her what medications I had gotten during surgery and they were TOTALLY different than what I had discussed with the anesthesia department 2 days earlier. So... the nurse very kindly called the lactation consultant who checked on all the meds I had gotten and gave us the go-ahead to nurse. What lovely ladies and totally instrumental in making this work. The recovery room nurse even argued with the anesthesiologist who was not on board at all. He wanted me to wait 12 hours to nurse even though this had all been worked out beforehand, and the lactation consultant checked all the meds for us. Eventually it was agreed that I'd be "difficult" and he'd disagree, although he did keep talking loudly about that's not how they do it at Brigham and Women's.

We ignored him, he left and Aaron and my mom helped get her into position and hold her while I was in recovery and the hours after surgery when holding her hurt. We nursed in the laid back or biological breastfeeding position, and with help it was manageable. We brought her mini-cosleeper with us to the hospital and she slept pretty well in it. We also kept her sleep sheep strapped to it, which helped keep her sleeping through the beeps and bumps and nightime visits by nurses. Obviously another adult had to stay overnight with me as I couldn't be her only caretaker, so poor Aaron slept curled up in what looked to be a very uncomfortable chair, and brought her to me when it was time to nurse. Lots of the nurses didn't even know she was there. If she started really crying my mom or Aaron would strap her in the Ergo and take her off the floor so she didn't bother anyone.

I am so grateful that my mom and fantastic husband are so supportive of me and Jodene and breastfeeding. They, along with a great lactation consultant and some very breastfeeding friendly nurses were the people who made this possible. So if you have surgery coming up, just know it can be done with some planning and if you hit roadblocks just look for ways around them and call your office of patient advocates.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I'm Baaaaack.......and I have a baby and thyroid cancer.

Like the bubonic plague, but nicer, I return after a few years of nothing.... Well I was busy. We had some deaths, a pregnancy, and a birth. Lots of smiles, and a few tears, and just life in all its messy gorgeous glory. It kept me from blogging, and frankly with a baby I can't promise I'll blog alot, but I'll at least peek in every now and then.

But now, I'm back. In 2 days I will officially be a stay at home mom. In 3 days I'm having my thyroid removed because of a cancerous nodule. And that's really why I'm back. I have googled and searched and found very little about being a mom, having thyroid cancer, and life post-thyroidectomy. Yes I read all the research articles and all the medical journals I could find. But there were very few people talking about what it was really like after surgery, and what life without a thyroid is like. So I figured I'd share my journey in case anyone else is looking for stories as they experience life with thyroid cancer.

Let me say this:

I am scared.

Scared that there will be some complication, scared that the cancer will be bigger than they think, scared it will hurt, and just plain scared of the unknown.

But I know that no matter what happens, I will be me. I will plow through and handle whatever happens. I'll try to make the best of it, and I'll probably succeed.


for right now, I'm scared of the unknown, ya know?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

double combs on a top bar hive

Finally a bee post!
The inside view of one of our top bar hives. This is the back of it.

Bees on new comb, it's very light in color.

Bees on older comb, the comb is more of a yellow/gold. There are some larvae, and capped brood in this photo.

A close up of capped brood and larvae.

More capped brood and larvae on comb that's not so brand new. The raised bullet shaped cells are drone brood.

Since we started with the top bar hives we had a couple bars that the bees had double comb on. Initially our philosophy was to leave it bee. The bees won't do anything that isn't good for them right?! Right. Well eventually we had 4 and in some cases 5-7 bars that couldn't be lifted individually. Not so bad for the bees, but really problematic for us, and totally uninspectable. Here's some pics of what was going on. We figured out that out top bars were too wide and have started replacing all the original bars with narrower bars.

Notice the long peanut shell looking cells at the bottom of the comb, those are queen cells.

Closer view of the queen cells.
As I saw it, we had a few options;
  • leave them alone - least invasive, but this would have made the hive inaccessible eventually
  • slowly move these double combs out by adding new smaller bars in front of them - less invasive, but it could take awhile and in the mean time the problem is getting worse.
  • cut off the double combs and reattach to new narrower bars - involves an incredible amount of intrusion, and as we found out, carnage.
The other situation was those queen cells.....swarm cells, supersedure cells, just in case cells (some were not capped), or was the queen gone entirely and they were trying to replace her? To be honest, I have no idea, initially we thought swarm cells due to their placement on the comb. Our plan was to do a split, moving the old queen and some bees to a new hive and letting the old hive raise a new queen. Simulating what would happen in a natural swarm. Lots of folks say once the bees decide to swarm they'll do it, so we figured on trying to work with it.

Problem was, once we got in the hive we couldn't find the queen, and realized there weren't any eggs, plus we didn't give ourselves enough time to do what we wanted to, and we forgot our smoker, and the bees were incredibly grumpy that day(it was a cloudy day so that probably didn't help). It was a disaster, and after only seperating one bar of double comb we gave up for the day. I also dropped a whole comb full of bees, it was awful. We never did find the queen and have since realized that our hive is queenless, no eggs no new larvae. Good thing we didn't do that split, or maybe they were ready to swarm and we killed the queen during one of our inspections,at any rate it was a disastrous first attempt at cutting off the double combs.

We left them alone for awhile to settle down and to fix all the damage we caused. I was worried that they'd be furious when we went back, or that they'd have left the hive altogether, I wouldn't blame them if they did.. In the meantime, we re-evaluated our plans, for one we realized we should give ourselves double the time we think we need, and if conditions aren't right to mess with the hive we need to just not do it, also don't forget the smoker. We also picked different hair clips, the ones we initially chose were too wide and the bars wouldn't sit right next to each other, causing the bees to have too much space, and yes again make double comb on those bars.....

When we went back the bees were still there, queen cells were all still capped, but no eggs or larvae, so we're hoping they're well on their way to making a new queen. We finished off the job of seperating all the bars with double comb in just a few minutes, and closed the bees up to continue their work.

We'll figure it out eventually, it's a learning process, I just felt bad the bees had to suffer. Still it seems that they are resilient little creatures.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Garden 2011- Progress

So far so good.

Here's a couple things we figured out so far.
  • Just laying some dirt on top of the hay and putting seeds or tiny seedlings into it means you have to water constantly. Until the roots are established enough to draw moisture from the soil beneath you risk them drying out and dying. Solution-put in bigger seedlings, deeper in the compost.

  • Don't just pile grass on as a top layer because it mats up and forms this impenetrable barrier that water runs off of. Solution- mound grass on and then put hay on top of that.

  • This method isn't work free, but it is nearly weed free! I hate weeding and by this time every year my garden is over run with weeds, but not THIS year. Every couple days I pull a blade of grass or two, that's it.

  • Letting go of all the ideas about rows and how far apart things have to be is liberating. This garden may not be traditionally beautiful, but I've really found the beauty in how certain plants grow together. How the close growing plants help keep the weeds down, and how much the worms and other insects love our undisturbed soil.

  • Companion planting works! See brassicas in the following photos....

Ok done with the words time for PICS.....

Directly in front is horehound, to the right is our sage, and in between the two is lavender. Somewhere in there is some rosemary, dill, lemon balm, and persistent mint growing through many layers of cardboard and mulch.

Swiss chard, egyptian onions gone wild, and peppers getting killed by slugs!

Baby tomatoes and pole beans, mixed in there are onions and carrots.

    Broccoli and cauliflower
    Broccoli in the herb bed....noticed it is untouched by the slugs...
    More brassicas (kohlrabi) not in the herb bed, getting murdered by slugs... companion planting seems to be working.
    Again hardly touched by slugs in the herb bed.
    Pumpkins..... I think...
    Our first head of broccoli forming.
    lavender blooming
    Sage blooming
Side note:
We gave up TV again this summer. Cable's off today, hopefully this summer is as busy and productive as last.

Next up:

That sauerkraut post I promised you, AND bee updates....seriously..... now that I have no TV I have more time to blog....=0)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garden 2011 - no till/permaculture

Last year we didn't have much of a garden, but over the winter Aaron and I did some reading and planning.
In late February I started planting seeds, this was my first batch. I planted more and more throughout March and April...and nurtured them alot... they were needy little seedlings.
This year we decided to use raised beds, since our previous attempts at no til were kind of a mess/failure.

So we designed some beds, bought some fir, and Aaron got to work setting up our "no till/permaculture/lasagna gardening/no dig/sheet mulching/whatever you wanna call it" raised beds. It's called so many different things and there's alot of variations.  The idea we're working on here is creating some natural balance, not digging up and disturbing the soil, using the compost to keep the weeds down and feed the plants. 

In early April we set up the beds right over the grass,and put cardboard around any of the perennials (hopefully killing the very invasive oregano and peppermint that had taken over), and layered it on top of the grass in the other beds.

Going around the sage and lavender.

Next came the layers of wet newspaper, going around the egyptian onions.

On top of that went some sawdust and then some composted goat manure that we got for next to nothing.

then lots of old, bad hay (hoping all the seeds are dead at this point), which was also dirt cheap.

Then a layer of grass clippings from our lawn. (We haven't used pesticides or fertilizers other than chicken manure in over 2 years on our lawn, so the clippings are safe to use) That's pretty much it, there's no set group of materials to use. The idea is to use what you have/can find. the only guideline we've been following is to  layer "brown" (carbon) and "green" (nitrogen) materials at about a 3:1 ratio. If you're interested here's a list of what's brown and what's green.

I pushed aside the top layer of hay/grass and planted my seedlings directly into the hole I made, along with some compost, then tucked it in.

Seedlings hardening off outside.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The socks that took forever = DONE!

I finally finished them while I was on vacation in South Carolina.

......uh but I forgot to take a picture....yeah seriously......

So glad to be done, sent these off to my mom, and have already started a new pair.



we have been busy....

soon will posting about no til gardening, sauerkraut, and bees....