Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The End of it All

I haven't written since mid-September, but I think about writing all of the time.  After so much time has passed, I just don't even know where to begin.  I think the thing that has kept me from writing is the death of my dad on October 18th.  I keep thinking that I need to write about him, but I just haven't had the mental energy to do so.  I'm not sure that I have the energy even today.  One of my friends suggested that I just move on and not get bogged down and that's what I think I will do--thanks Cristin.

I will say that I miss my dad much more than I ever thought possible.  He was a good man but he more often than not bugged the crap out of me and I had little tolerance for his whack-a-doo ideas and beliefs.  He was super stubborn, a lot like me in fact.  The thing is, he absolutely adored Kiersta, and she him.  I am so sorry that the two of them will not be able to spend time together anymore.
This is the final picture I took of my dad and Kiersta together, less than a month before he passed away.

The other piece of news that has kept me from writing, is the fact that I have been super tired for the past three months or so.  I'm just not a very good pregnant lady.  My body does not like all of the hormones coursing through me and fights back on a near daily basis.  I didn't know I was pregnant at the time of my dad's death--I thought many of my symptoms were wrapped up in my grief and anxiety of the situation at hand.  While grief may have contributed, I now know the full story.  It is hard to be so happy and so sad at the same time.  I so wish my dad could have been told in person that he was going to be a Morfar (grandfather) again.  I have to believe that he does know in his own way though.

So there you have it, the death of my dad and the upcoming birth in mid-June of our second child.  As the cliche' says, when one door closes, another opens.  Cliches are said for a reason though and this one is definitely true for me right now.  I'm hoping that with 2008 ending I can put away my guilt over not writing and bring in a sense of renewed optimism for life with 2009.

Wishing everyone a very happy new year!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sigh...Back to Square One

Last week Brian took Kiersta in for her "oral challenge" to see if she was still allergic to peanuts. Unfortunately she is.  The doctor started with a peanut butter rub on her lip. Everything was going well and the next phase, "chew a peanut and then spit it out" was about to begin.  However, right then Brian noticed that Kiersta had hives.  The rest of the testing was cancelled and we are back to square one.  We have to wait two more years before we have her tested again.  Two more years of label reading, two more years of worrying, two more years of not eating Chinese food, two more years of...well, the same.

When Brian called me and gave me the news, I was so sad.  I had been so hopeful and felt that there was no way she could still be allergic, but I was wrong.  Apparently this had been the second time in a week that there had been a negative scratch test result and then a positive result from the oral challenge.  The doctors are looking into the possibility of a bad batch of peanut scratch testers.  I just want for Kiersta to be "normal."  I don't want her to start elementary school next year where food is unrestricted and kids share.  She may just have to go to my school so that I can be there to keep an eye on things.  Kiersta is disappointed too.

Here's one sad girl (age 17 months)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wii!!!!! This is fun!

Last week  I bought a used Nintendo Wii.  The 14 year old boy I bought it from had only played it 3 times and decided he would rather have a laptop, so he was selling it in order to earn the money.  I'm trying to figure out what is wrong with me when the 38 year old female wants something a 14 year old male doesn't want.  His mother assured me it's because he has so many other gaming systems and would rather play Rock Band than go bowling.

Unfortunately the kid forgot to include one of the cables and the manuals so I had to wait a few days for him to find them.  Four days later I had all of the parts.  Brian hooked it up for me on Friday night, but I was so tired from a long week at work that I fell asleep on Kiersta's floor. Brian stayed up until 3 am playing.  I took my turn on Saturday.  Kiersta had a lot of fun designing her Mii and thought that was a game all on its own.  Her favorite game is the cow riding game on Wii Play.  I'm feeling partial to tennis.  Brian is liking baseball, especially once he figured out that he can hit the ball out of the park by just flicking his wrist instead of taking a real swing.  I also learned that I have the fitness age of a 69 year old (because I couldn't time my swings right in baseball and didn't hit a single ball); I guess I'll have to work on that.

I also learned that there is no way we could have had a Wii at our trailer.  I would have hit the ceiling when serving or swinging the racket in tennis.  As it is, we're not sure we can really even play a 2-player game without causing physical damage to one another.  The coffee table is pushed to the side  and the couch is pushed back.  No, we didn't have to move the couch outside (though that would provide more space), this picture was taken when we were upgrading to a new used couch and had the old one posted for free take away on Craig's List, and it just seemed appropriate.

I've been very disciplined today though and haven't played once.  I worked on cleaning out Kiersta's room of toys, books, and clothing that she no longer uses or wears--with Kiersta's input, of course.  This process took most of the day.  

I'm looking forward to buying some new games. Anyone have any good suggestions?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Encouraging News from the Peanut Gallery

My little peanut at 6 months on a rainy afternoon in Bodie.

As many of you know, Kiersta is allergic to peanuts.  We found out just after her second birthday when Brian gave her some peanut butter on a rice cake; Kiersta immediately broke out in hives.  At that time we met with a pediatric allergist and had a blood test done to confirm our fears.  Kiersta scored a 3.2 on the allergy scale.  What the heck does that mean? Basically, someone who scores 15 or above is pretty much 100% sure of going into anaphylaxis if peanuts are consumed.  A score of 2 or below means that a person essentially has no allergy. The 3.2 means that Kiersta has a chance of going into anaphylaxis but the chances are quite slim, however we do carry Epipens (epinephrin shots) with us everywhere we go.  The allergist believes that Kiersta has a good chance of growing out of her allergy.

As a result, we religiously read food labels to find out if foods are "processed in a plant that processes peanuts," "is processed on a line that processes peanuts," or actually "contains peanuts."  All of these categories are off limits.  We've managed to get her daycare to stop serving peanut butter and educated many people, ourselves included, on peanut allergies.

Recently I went grocery shopping.  I was, as usual, reading labels and looking for foods without peanuts.  I picked up a box of Strawberry Chex and a box of Chocolate Chex (I know, I know, not the healthiest choices).  The Strawberry Chex contained peanut flour, the chocolate cereal did not.  I thought that was strange but went ahead and bought the chocolate cereal.  I gave Kiersta a bowl of it the next morning for breakfast, she loved it.  The next day Brian was about to give her a bowl but was double checking the ingredients and saw that it actually contained peanut flour!  You may be asking yourself, "How in the world did this happen with all of the label reading that happens in this family?"  Well, I'll tell you.  The Chocolate Chex had a sample packet of mocha flavored Chex Mix seasoning inside.  The ingredients for the sample packet were printed on one side of the box, the ingredients for the cereal were on the other side panel. When I picked up the box, I read the sample side.  Why the manufacturer put sample ingredients on the side panel, I'll never understand.  I was trying to be responsible, but obviously I screwed up.  The good news though is that Kiersta did not have any kind of reaction! :)

Which leads to the events of today.  Because there was no allergic reaction we thought that maybe, just maybe our ordeal is over.  Today we met with Kiersta's allergist for the first time in 2 1/2 years.  I expected to just go in and talk and set up a follow up appointment for actual testing.  To my surprise, the doctor offered to have a scratch test done right then and there.  I quickly agreed.  Kiersta was also agreeable until she realized she was going to get poked on her arm and then attempted to fight off the nurse.  The nurse was ultimately successful in scratching Kiersta three times initially and then 2 more when there wasn't enough liquid in the histamine and control scratches.  The histamine spot formed a hive.  The control stayed clear as did the peanut spot!  This is VERY good news.  It looks like Kiersta may be peanut allergy free. The next step is an "oral challenge" in the allergist's office where she'll have to eat dry-roasted peanuts while being monitored.  Kiersta doesn't want to do this because she thinks she won't like peanuts. While Kiersta may never be a fan of peanuts or peanut butter, it will be so nice if we can go through life without having to be so careful all the time.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Life is filled with choices, not all of them easy.  Now that I am back at work, I have many more choices to make each day, especially once I leave work.  

Upon escaping, I pick up Kiersta and then have to decide what we will do.  Do we go home? Go to a park? Run errands?  My time is so much more limited now so I have to make these choices carefully; I can't do all that I want to do. 

Here are the choices I made this week.  Monday, we went to the park for our weekly park playdate.  Unfortunately no one else showed up, but we still had a good time.  Tuesday, grocery shopping.  We pay for everything with our credit card and then pay it off entirely at the end of the month.  When I got this month's bill, I hadn't gone grocery shopping for over a month!!! Needless to say, this was a huge shopping trip where I spent over $350.00--YIKES! Wednesday, girls night out pool party that I stayed a for much too long because I was having so much fun. Thursday, hair cut for the first time in over 6 months.  Friday, I went to my folks' home for dinner.  This is a pretty typical week for me.  Super busy and wishing it weren't so crazy all the time.  

 when I am home, I have to decide how to spend my time.  There's always cooking and cleaning to do.  I can choose to pay down my TiVo debt (meaning, I watch some TV) or I can play on the computer.  I can spend time with the family, too.  Lately it seems that the TV and the computer win out, especially once Kiersta has gone to bed.  

This is one of the biggest choices I made recently--I chose to go back to school to earn a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership at San Jose State.  Luckily, as the picture shows, I've graduated and have more time to make more choices.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Camping We Will Go-Hendy Woods

The interesting thing about Hendy Woods is that a hermit lived in a fallen log as well as a burnt out tree stump for years and years before passing away in the early 80's.  His two huts are preserved and are now an attraction within the park.

This is one of the hermit's huts.

Here is the other one.  I can't imagine calling either of these two structures home for an extended period of time.

On the final day of our camping trip, I cajoled everyone into hiking to the two huts as well as walking in the groves of redwood trees.  Many of the trees have fallen over and have their roots exposed.  One of the fallen trees has been climbed on so much that a trail has appeared along the length of the tree.  Kiersta and her cousins had fun climbing on it.  Kiersta pretended the tree was an elephant that needed to be ridden on.

Here are James, Erik, and Kiersta riding on the elephant.

After our hike we started the 4 hour drive home.  We made one stop at the Anderson Valley Brewery.  Kiersta decided to be very photogenic and kept asking me to take her picture with the Beer.
                                                       Bear + Deer =.......................Beer!!!!

Finally, Kiersta jumped into this tree and shouted, "Take my picture, Mommy!"  Being the good mom that I am, I obliged her every wish and whim. :)  I think I may have a future model on my hands, she certainly has the temperament of one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Camping We Will Go-Mendocino

Canoeing and Russian Gulch were great fun, but it was also wonderful to spend a few hours in Mendocino.  I love how the town appears in the distance as you drive up Highway 1.  The white steeple of the Presbyterian (?) church jutting up into the sky is just charming in an old- fashioned New England kind of way.  In college, at UCSB, I took a class on comparative religions and that steeple, or is it a spire?, was on the front cover of my textbook. Unfortunately, that is the only thing I remember about that class (oh, wait, I also ran into the TA on the bus one afternoon).

Anyway, I digress...

After canoeing, letterboxing, and visiting the blowhole that doesn't blow at Russian Gulch, we went into town for dinner.  I don't know where families with kids eat in that village, I guess they must drive to Fort Bragg.  We eventually found a burger joint, Mendo Burger, that we could all agree on.  The food was amazingly good and I would definitely return there--especially since it appears to be the only kid friendly restaurant around.  As we were waiting for our food, I was rifling through my letterboxing clues and realized that one box referred to a statue that I had just pointed out as we were searching for food.  I ran out and retrieved the box and brought it back to the restaurant to do my stamping.

After dinner, Brian's brother's family headed back to camp.  Brian, Kiersta, and I lingered and went for a walk along the Mendocino Headlands in the fog.  Blackberry bushes were incredibly abundant and dripping with ripe berries, which Kiersta and I ate with gusto.  

We found a large wooden structure that Kiersta pretended was her throne while she was Princess Tata.  This is now one of my most favorite pictures of Kiersta.  I love the gray background of the fog.  What you don't see is Brian hovering nearby because this throne was quite close to the cliff's edge.

We also passed this wonderful old tree.  It is just screaming to have a letterbox placed near it,                                                                                     don't you think?  Who's going to plant it?  I look forward to finding the box on my next trip to Mendocino?


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Camping We Will Go-Canoeing

    Are these two cousins or siblings????

This past weekend we went camping at Hendy Woods State Park in Mendocino County.  This is my favorite campground--the sites are huge and fairly private.  There are redwoods and the Navarro River to play in.  Mendocino is just a 45 minute drive away.  There are also MANY wineries/tasting rooms in the area and a brewery that I plan to take advantage of on future trips. 

For this camping trip we went with Brian's older brother, Kevin, his wife, Jen, and their two boys, James and Erik.  Kiersta had so much fun playing with her cousins.  They seem to really like her too and don't seem to mind the fact that she is a girl or that she is only 4 years old.  Jen even told me that Erik (pictured above) said, "Kiersta has a great imagination, not a good one, a GREAT one."

On our first full day, we drove to the Big River in Medocino to Catch-a-Canoe to go canoeing. We rented a big ol' outrigger canoe that we could all fit in.  We canoed for 2 hours and covered about 5 miles total.  The Big River is a tidal river and if you time things right, you can paddle with the tide in both directions which means you don't have to do a lot of work.  Unfortunately for us, a boat wasn't available when we first got there, so we went to Russian Gulch for lunch and letterboxing (found two of the three I was looking for).

It was so foggy at Russian Gulch that we could barely see this island just a few hundred feet from where we were eating. 
 The Russian Gulch Bridge is beyond the island but we were unable to see it at all.  The fog was eerie but strangely beautiful.  Catch-a-Canoe called us when our boat was available (a policy they had just started 2 days prior) and we had 20 minutes to hustle back to the docks.  By the time we got our boat, the tide had shifted.  Luckily we had four strong adults to paddle.  

Even though we were only 5 minutes away from Russian Gulch, there was no fog on Big River.  The water was choppy due to the windy conditions, but there was no fog.  We saw crabs swimming in the river, which was pretty cool.  I highly recommend going to Catch-a-Canoe.  My parents used to take me and my brother there when we were kids.  It's exciting to now take my daughter to the same location and to see that things haven't changed at all.

This is the fearless crew of the Outrigger Canoe!  Jen, Erik, Kevin, Kiersta, Brian, and Me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Making Waves

What is it about the last day of swim lessons that makes me so sad?  I think it is because the end of swim lessons signals the end of summer.  I'm not ready for summer to end.  While I have been in my classroom for 4 days already rearranging furniture, unpacking boxes, and dusting, I am not ready to be back at work full time.  I have so enjoyed my summer of being a "soccer mom" even though no soccer was played.  I like taking Kiersta to her classes and hanging out with the other moms, it's relaxing and low key, plus I feel like I'm being a good mom! LOL

This summer of swim lessons was particularly fun because Kiersta took lessons with two of her best friends, which means I got to hang with moms I actually know and really like.  I've enjoyed spending time with these ladies and am sad that I won't see them as often now--I'm already wishing it were next summer!  I've tried and tried to link a second picture with this paragraph of the 3 girls together, but I am unable to do so.  This program keeps dumping the picture at the top of the page above the picture of Kiersta with her goggles.  I am TOTALLY frustrated right now!  The help section was of no help what so ever. ARRRGGGHHHH!!!!  I know it can be done, because I see it on my friends' blogs.  Please help me, somebody!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rolling Along

Kiersta had her final gymnastics class today.  This was just a Parks and Rec. class that met once a week for 8 weeks and only worked on floor moves, so we weren't expecting an Olympic caliber performance. Last summer Kiersta took a ballet/tap combo class with the same teacher and pretty much hated it. On the final day of dance class, she just stood and smiled at all of the cameras in the audience and barely did any of the routine.  Would the same be true this summer?  I was hopeful that a year later she would have a little more confidence and actually participate in the showcase.  

Kiersta ended up doing a nice job today.  She was definitely nervous and chewed on her fingers a lot and was distracted by her leotard going up her butt, but she participated.  Her favorite moves are log rolls and crab walking.  We'll continue to try out new classes and skills and have fun watching her grow and gain confidence.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I must be totally whacked!

Like I don't have enough to do already, and now I've decided to start a blog.  Huh?  Me, blogging? I don't have an interesting enough life that anyone wants to read about it, especially now that school is about to start.  However, I'll see if and where this goes and move on from there.

Today Kiersta had a swim playdate with her two friends Sarah and Maggie.  The pool was cold but the girls had fun, for the most part.  Sarah and Maggie's mom, Michelle, and I were able to hold bits and pieces of a conversation over the yelling and constant interruptions and demands for attention from the girls.  When does this parenting thing become fun for the parents?

We all went out for dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, which was yet another adventure.  Bathroom trips, nearly knocking over the table, twice!, and cajoling the girls to eat their dinner before dessert made for a typical evening out at a restaurant with 3 and 4 year olds.  Luckily Brian was there too so the adults weren't outnumbered by the kids.

After dinner, Brian, Kiersta, and I went for a walk on "our" hill.  I decided to check on my two letterboxes and discovered that one of them is missing!  My first lost box.  We searched the area thoroughly but were unable to locate my missing box.  As I walked to check on my other box, I was feeling pretty sad.  I realize that I can recarve the stamp, but I can't replace the logbook with all of those images from other letterboxers.  I'm hoping someone will return the box, but I doubt that will happen.  The good news is that my other box was in more or less the right place and in fine shape.  

I have to be at work at 7:30 tomorrow morning.  Are you jealous of my oh so interesting life yet? :)