17 October 2016

Read: I'm Judging You

We were at a party this weekend and someone was talking about how much he hates ebooks and prefer paper books. I actually have come to love ebooks, although I enjoy paper books too. One of his gripes was that you can't highlight ebooks or keep notes. Uh... that's untrue, although it takes some figuring out. My Kindle allows highlights and then you can export a "notebook" of those highlighted parts at the end. (Although I agree that for note taking and school purposes I'd much prefer paper to digital books.)

These were my highlighted parts of "I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual" by Luvvie Ajayi:
The red stripes on the flag are really the blood of Black and brown people, and many centuries after the country’s creation, these stains still have not faded.

Racism is not a byproduct as much as it’s the foundational stock in the American soup.

Black people actually have to PROVE their humanity, instead of having it accepted as a given.

We’re saying that white people benefit from an automatic position of privilege because of their skin color in a larger racist society.

We know all lives should matter, but ALL lives cannot matter until Black lives matter, too.

Words used within a marginalized group are not always appropriate when used by an outsider.

Rape culture is the prevailing attitude that women exist primarily to please men, and therefore are not equal human beings with agency over their own bodies.

The questionable personal decisions we sometimes make do not excuse the bad decisions others make, especially when it comes to how they interact with us.

Believing that people should make their own choices about their own lives is ultimately what I think it means to be a feminist.

Wanting equal rights for women is not synonymous with wanting fewer rights for men,

Organized religion, practiced fundamentally and literally, is a strong tool of control. So I understand why people do not believe in it or a higher power. 
(I really liked the book and would recommend it.)

03 October 2016

Crochet: Snow Queen Hat

Jane had a princess party last week (at Build-a-Bear - such a fun party, although I'm sure expensive for the birthday girl's family since every kid got to pick out a bear and outfit!). Jane already had this Elsa dress (made by my aunt), and I thought it would be fun to make her an Elsa hat/wig.

I googled for inspiration and found a pattern of sorts at Repeat Crafter Me. I used my own basic hat pattern (I've made enough that it's second nature to do the bases) using half double crochets. Then I added a folded over piece of loooong yarn to each stitch in the last row, swooped them all to the side and braided. I had Jane wear the hat while I braided, and I'm not sure I could have braided otherwise. She was also helpful holding the yarn as I swooped/twisted the back and then the front before bringing them together to braid.

I bought some snowflake buttons for $2 at Walmart (Christmas snowflake decorations would have been bigger/better, but the Xmas stuff isn't out yet). I sewed on two at the last minute and away we went to the party!

Jane got loads of compliments on the hat, and I'm really proud of it. She wore it the whole party even though it was pretty hot in the store. When I took the hat off it had pressed around her head a bit where the hair was, so I think if I made this again I'd make the hate a smidge bigger -- maybe a half round extra increases -- because the hair swoop tightens it a bit.

Fun for dress up play, and I'm sure it won't be hard to make a coordinating Anna hat/wig. Maybe for baby sister?!

29 September 2016

Crochet: Sunshine Blanket

I crocheted this blanket -- called Sunshine from the book Little Crochet Modern Baby Designs -- for my college friend who had her first baby in August.

I had started this more than a year ago, and the pattern proved too hard. It's got some pineapple stitches, and the stitch markers required  to get things right muddled my brain. I'd set it aside for a number of months. But when I found out this friend was pregnant I picked it up again and had a much easier time. My hook was flying!

My friend didn't share the gender of her baby before the birth, so I was hoping this yarn I'd chosen would be gender neutral. Of course as it worked up the orangish color in the variegated yarn started looking VERY pink and I knew this was a "girl" blanket.

After I finished this I started on an alternate "boy" blanket -- a cool technique with the corner-to-corner stitch but changing colors to make a picture appear -- but I never got into it enough to get it done before her baby (A DAUGHTER!) was born.

Basically I think this blanket belonged to this baby girl all along, since I had so much trouble doing it before she existed and then it came so easily once I was making it for her.

Now I have a work-in-progress of the owl blanket, and it's not as easy as I thought it would be because of how many color changes there are -- my yarn is getting tangled, I have knots in the yarn from just annoying yarn and I gave up at least for now

19 September 2016

Cost of Fighting A Ductal Yeast Infection

I am still fighting a ductal yeast infection in my breast -- candida during breastfeeding or however you say it. It's the pits. I've spent significant time and some good chunks of change on my efforts to kill the yeast. I am cautiously optimistic that this infection is nearly gone. Knock on wood and cross all your fingers! Here's a rough estimate of what I've done since early July to get here:
  • Six weeks of diflucan -- this is the actual prescription medication, and I'm lucky my insurance covers it. Apparently it was expensive as a brand name but is now available as generic flucanozole. I couldn't convince my doctor to prescribe it longer (I didn't try very hard), although the protocol says it should be continued until symptoms are gone for a full week. (I had not had a full week of symptom free when I stopped the diflucan, but I think I have now, or at least very nearly symptom-free.)
  • All Purpose Nipple Ointment -- another one that needed to be prescribed. I had to get it at a compounding pharmacy that doesn't take insurance. It's $75, although I put in for it to be reimbursed by insurance. They sent a check for $10 without explanation. We still need to follow up on that one, but say $65.
  • Grapefruit seed extract -- I have this orally as well as topically as a liquid. I mix the liquid into water (15 drops in a half shot glass) and use a Q-tip to saturate the nipple after nursing and follow up with the APNO. Liquid cost $11. Orally I take 250 mg three times per day. On Amazon it's about $11 for 60 pills, so a 20 day supply. I've probably been taking it for 8 weeks because I started it as soon as it seemed this was likely yeast. I've definitely purchased it five times so far (counting twice at Whole Foods in 125 mg dose, so the bottle doesn't last quite as long) and am working my way through the fifth bottle. (So $55 so far.)
  • Gentian violet -- this took me a while to find because I kept thinking I would find it locally. In the end I could have ordered and received it from Amazon several times over, so I just did that ($10) and waited 2 more days. This does help, although I'm not sure how long it's OK to use. The protocol says on for 7 days then stop. If it hasn't worked in 7 days it won't. BUT it can be repeated. So I don't know. I do it, then stop and have symptoms flare and start again. It is HELLA messy and I hate it. I like purple OK but not on my poor baby's mouth. At church this week she had a big purple mustache and I had to get into my infection/medicine with more people than I would have liked (I should have agreed to others' ideas -- purple marker or a bruise). Definitely not what I had in mind when I say I want to help normalize breast feeding. (Update since I started this post - I was able to stop the gentian violet after about 3 cycles, so 21 days total using it. I've been off it for more than a week, and I know it's there to try again if symptoms flare.)

  • Probiotics - buy locally at Whole Foods and also bought some inferior ones at CVS ($11 down the tubes) - $22 x two so far. They have to be refrigerated and need to be taken separately from the Grapefruit Seed Extract (which would just kill the probiotics I think). So I don't remember to take them too often, but at least once a day before bed and sometimes in the afternoon too. I think that's a good sign that I don't remember and am getting better!
  • Vinegar for washing clothes and towels - minimal cost but for the sake of completion - $2. I wash everything of the baby's and everything that touches my breasts (bras, towels, etc.) in hot water with vinegar rinse. Acidity kills (?) the yeast, or at least inhibits its growth.
  • Paper towels to limit yeast from towels on my hands after washing and limit chances of re-infection (not entirely convinced this is necessary) - $4, estimated because we use paper towels normally. I just kept a roll in the bathroom to use with each hand wash there and have used about 4 rolls over the time I've been doing this.
  • Jack Newman book: Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding, includes the candida protocol I am trying to follow. $22.
  • Lactation consultation - should have been $95, although maybe insurance would have covered it. I got my consultation free because while I was waiting for a call back in the hospital waiting area I was hassled by a security guard about breast feeding and that I needed to go to their special rooms/couldn't just nurse in the lobby even covered up. I tweeted my indignation, which got the communications people's attention and I was given a personal apology and the consultation for free, which was nice. It was helpful because they were the ones who agreed that it was more likely yeast. They weren't used to seeing such big/older babies though. If nothing else it made me feel like someone in the medical system actually cared about me/my pain at that point (when my doctor was out of town).
  • Monistat 7 - before I got the APNO - $11
So adding all that up we're at $224 actually spent (not including the $95 the lactation consultation would have cost). I'd gladly throw money at this problem just to get better and it was the TIME more than anything that has been hard to deal with. I've been robbed of pleasure with my baby, and while we're still nursing and everything is great with her growth and health I am battered and beaten down from this experience. I hope I can bounce back and continue to get better until completely, truly healed. And I hope you never experience this. If you do/found this via Google please feel free to email me for empathy!

07 September 2016

Tell Me I'm Fat

Last week I finally listened to the This American Life episode "Tell Me I'm Fat." It was put together around the release of Lindy West's book "Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman," which I pre-ordered and read when it was published earlier this year. I've loved West's writing since Jezebel, and I really liked the book. I loaned it to my sister before I could go back and make notes for this post, but I checked it out from the library electronically and copied out some of what I wanted to remember/share.

I am fat, but like Roxane Gay says in the TAL episode I'm "Lane Bryant fat," meaning I can still move about in the world and there are places I can buy clothes. In Shrill West talks about that too --
"I’ve always been fat, but I was the fat person that still mostly fit. While I couldn’t fit into regular-lady clothes (more bejeweled tunics covered with skulls, cherries, and antique postage stamps, please!), and I had to be careful with butt safety (I once Godzilla’d an entire lunch setting while trying to sidle through a Parisian cafe), I was still the kind of fat person who could move through the straight-sized world without causing too many ripples. Until I couldn’t."
I'm the kind of fat person who can move through the straight-sized world without causing too many ripples. I want to be OK with my body as it is without giving that body license to break down (or something). I want to remember this, also from Shrill:
"Please don’t forget: I am my body. When my body gets smaller, it is still me. When my body gets bigger, it is still me. There is not a thin woman inside me, awaiting excavation. I am one piece."
And I want my girls to know that too. My value, their value is so much more than our bodies. Women don't have to be a certain size to be worthy of love and respect. Another of the acts in the TAL episode was about a woman who lost a significant amount of weight and got everything she ever wanted (relationship, acting jobs, etc.) once she was thin. I feel like I have everything I ever wanted, although perhaps I'm missing something???

My daughters are also an impetus for wanting to be less fat -- mainly to be able to move through the world more easily (socially as well as just literally moving more easily). And ideally to stay in this world longer. (I say that not that fat equals unhealthy, but I am a heavier weight when I'm not taking care of myself -- less exercise, more sugar, etc.)

Lots to think about and remember for discussions down the line.

No more affiliate links via Amazon, since Louisiana changed its law to require taxes be paid up front Amazon just shut down the affiliates program for anyone living in the state. So there's that...

02 September 2016

Flood Recovery

Nothing happened to me because of the Louisiana flood. But it could have. There's nothing about my character or where I chose to live that exempted me from the flood waters. It just happened that the mega rain did not fall over my house. But others in our community were not so lucky, if luck is even the right word.

Together Baton Rouge is an organization that was started several years ago to address issues of social justice and bringing the community together in rational ways to solve problems. Boy have they stepped up and been incredible in their efforts for this flood recovery. I'm proud to support them financially, and I hope you'll consider a donation too.

As a Methodist I'm proud that no matter where the disaster we are always on the ground. UMCOR is another great option for your donation dollars, and for the Louisiana flood going through the Louisiana Annual Conference is a good idea too. Our church did a lot of work in the initial week after the flood, and we continue to house "second responders," or those teams of volunteers who have expertise in gutting houses and came out to do just that.

I still feel out of sorts -- I should be DOING something -- I am experiencing no negative outcomes to this flood that hits SO CLOSE to home. My life is uninterrupted, while those so nearby are still shattered. (Although I still have the "excuse" of nursing mother to keep me out of heavy work ... although if I look at myself I'm so weak I doubt I could do the physical labor required even without the need to remain with my baby almost all the time...)

The national media coverage -- rather the lack thereof -- is problematic for getting recovery dollars and private donations flowing into the community. It's also understandable if infuriating. There's no one to "blame" in the flood scenario is something I've read often, and really that means there is no villain other than mother nature. And we can pound our heads against the wall all we want there's no changing that.

But I also don't think the national media scoffs at stories of the Cajun Navy or people saving each other. It's just less compelling perhaps the farther you are from the tragedy. That's true as human nature I guess or at least the way our media system is set up now. I didn't give a lot of thought to Superstorm Sandy even though we'd recently moved from the area hit when it happened in 2012 and even though it got A LOT more national coverage.

A lot of donations have come directly to families via GoFundMe accounts that have been set up. I've donated to one for my friend. But the awful part of that is GoFundMe takes 8% off the top. I knew it was a bad idea and I should have bought a gift card or just sent her a check directly. Blurgh. 

The other instinct that has kicked in during this time "after" is the desire to clean out all my crap. For several days I looked around and thought about the things on the floor/low shelves would just be gone should water come in. And how that would probably be OK for most of the stuff. And should I take steps to eliminate excess material goods? (Yes, a thousand times, yes.)

I've also been cutting way back on spending on non-consumables. We're still doing grocery shopping and getting medicines (wait for the post on how much fighting the breast infection is costing me to see that math...), but I haven't been shopping for new clothes or shoes or anything, even as back-to-school sales are in full swing. (I did buckle today at Target during the back-to-school clearance items, so I'm sure it won't be long before I'm back to my regular type of spending habit.) We have plenty and there's no need. We should put that money toward helping others rebuild their lives. What else is there to do?

These are the main thoughts that have been on repeat in the last few weeks. In addition to the deep sense of gratitude for remaining high and dry.

16 August 2016

On an Island

We live in Baton Rouge, which has seen its share of tragedies this summer. The latest is a flood of epic proportions.

All around us there is devastation.

Our home is fine. We are fine. We have power, Internet and plenty of food and water.

There's no threat to our home now. We're in a high spot and away from where the biggest rains fell. We are also far enough away from bodies of water that we shouldn't suffer flooding from the backflow (which I still don't understand).

But I'm still unsettled, anxious and often find myself on the brink of tears.

We are so lucky. But what are we to do?

Our church is a short-term shelter for now, and I've been helping out with the communications/social media aspect of that as I can. I haven't brought myself to go to church and volunteer directly (although the way is clear and we went for worship on Sunday). Having the girls and being a nursing mom makes that much harder, and I can't tell if they're overwhelmed with volunteers already and an extra three people (since that's what I really am) would be more in the way than helpful. But that adds a level of guilt. I should be giving up some of my things and more of my time in constructive ways more than anxiety stressing.

We haven't been out of the house since Sunday. The roads around us are clear, but where is there to go? I got groceries on Sunday afternoon, and it was a madhouse and scary with a half-flooded parking lot that I later heard had an alligator in it (hopefully a false rumor, but certainly not unbelievable). We're a little stir crazy too. TBD on when Jane's school will actually start.

On Facebook I've seen a lot of complaints about how the flood isn't receiving national news coverage. I guess the cable news networks aren't covering it too much. I've read a few stories about "disaster porn" and maybe we're not important since it's an unknown city and Louisiana floods all the time so we should be ready for it. I don't know what national coverage would do to help things. Would people donate more? I don't know. But the disaster is staggering.

Oh, and my breast infection is definitely yeast and hasn't fully healed yet. I have been taking medication for several weeks that helps but hasn't been able to completely eliminate it. I am due for a refill tomorrow, but I don't know if I can reach my doctor OR if she'll agree to give me more (it's not a narcotic, but it is expensive and not usually used for so long). I was off it for two days last week and the pains came roaring back so she gave me another week. That's a personal anxiety but it hums in the background, increasing my general unease, malaise and ennui...