Friday, July 27, 2012

Car-free: the first week

First week: done!

So far it hasn't been that hard. My Zipcar application was finally approved (yay!), so if there is something that simply needs a car, I have one.

Last Saturday we returned the borrowed SUV to McKay's uncle. I drove it down to their place while McKay drove the Zipcar down so we could have a way home. We discovered that Zipcars are in high demand on the weekends and the closest one available was a mile away. We prepared and brought a stroller with us to carry the carseats for the walk home from the Zipcar.

We also used a Zipcar on Sunday to get to church. The cars are vacuumed and washed and shiny. And unlike every other car we've owned: they have fancy dashboards. That talk to you and things. Our first car together was a '91 and the most recent was a '98, so these fancy shmancy computer-y cars are new to us. But fun. We actually have the option of trying lots of different kinds of cars through Zipcar: Priuses (how do you pluralize that?), Civics, Focuses (Foci?), etc. So that's kind of fun.

McKay was home sick Tuesday through Thursday and utterly useless as he slept all day every day. I thought, "Oh maybe he can watch the kids while I take the bike trailer shopping so I don't have to carry kids AND groceries back," but nope.

On Tuesday we took the bus to a park. I can bike to most of the parks in Berkeley, but there are a few that are out of reach or up in the hills where I don't want to pull 65+ pounds of children with a fixie. We rode 5 different buses in that round trip: 3 on the way to the park and 2 on the way home. The buses were mostly on-time. One was about 5 minutes late, but it was lunch hour in Berkeley: traffic is just going to be bad. Another was late, but we took the first one that came by since both lines were going in the same direction and would get us home either way. But we did have fun at the park. Isaac was in the mei tai on the way home because we had to walk a half a mile to get to the bus stop and he fell asleep for the whole ride back. It was a little sad since we was really excited about going on the bus. "BUS!!!"

I also rode my bike to two other parks this week, but that's not any different from what I was doing before the car-free experiment: if a park is close, I ride my bike.

I rode my bike to the grocery store, like I said above. There is a Grocery Outlet, which will sometimes have organic snacks and such for really cheap. I go there first and then to another store to pick up what wasn't at Grocery Outlet. Grocery Outlet is very hit-and-miss. Luckily, I was able to find everything we needed there, so that was great. Riding home, I estimate I pulled 100+ pounds of people and groceries for 2 miles on the way home. But on the other hand, I didn't spend as much at the store because I knew I'd have to trek it home with my own legs. Also, on the way home, we passed the missionaries on their bikes. They said, "Hi," but didn't recognize me or anything. Berkeley is a different ward.

Tomorrow McKay and I are going out on a date in San Francisco, so we're taking the bus to the BART. McKay's never been on the BART before, so it'll be an adventure for him. And we have a Zipcar already reserved for church on Sunday.

McKay and I agreed that we'd do this for a month and then reassess. Our arbitrary "month" will be over on August 19, since that'll be 4 full weeks are being car-free. I'm really excited for this!

ETA: I did need to get a ride to my visiting teaching group, but luckily there are a couple of people in my group who live close by. I feel bad about getting rides: I'm taking on this car-free thing for myself and then turning around and expecting other people to pick up the slack. On the other hand, it did allow me to talk to this person and get to know her better and it didn't bother her at all- she actually felt bad for driving to my house, we are so close.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Inquisition Monday

Jennie asked (or I suppose more accurately, stated), "I'm just curious what your "potty training" story is for Margaret, and then again for Isaac, what was the most frustrating, and what you found worked really well overall."


I don't feel like I've really done anything. For both kids we've done a really, really part-time EC. 


When Margaret was about 5 or 6 months, we noticed she would not pee all night, so we started putting her on the potty first thing in the morning. We would have naked butt time and she liked using the potty at 9, 10 months, but if I wasn't aware, she would have misses. For a bit there we were pretty lax and didn't do much. Sometime before the age of 2, she was regularly pooping in the potty and I rarely had a poopy diaper to clean. I know that when we moved to California, she was wearing a diaper just for church or when we were in the car a long time or out where I wouldn't be able to potty her. When Isaac was born (27 months old), Margaret was just using the diaper for church- and that was only for McKay's peace of mind. A couple of months after he was born, we made the jump to just panties and never went back. She still has accidents from time to time, especially if I don't remind her to go potty before we go out or if she gets upset. She'll tense up her whole body and pee her pants if she's hurt and crying. But I think that's typical for a 4 year old. Most of the time she goes to the bathroom herself.

For Isaac, we did some diligent ECing when he was a newborn, but when I was fighting thrush, I decided my mind needed to focus on that and not his pottying. We've had a similar attitude with his ECing as with Margaret's: it's there, he has a lot of naked butt time. I've actually been a lot more lax than with Margaret. Part of it is having 2 kids, and part of it is that everyone says boys will take longer, so I didn't want to push and cause a potty strike.

Despite that, he is at about the same potty-learning stage Margaret was at 2. At home, he is perfectly fine in panties or naked and has no accidents if I remember to put him on the potty regularly. We use diapers when we are out or at church, but he will ask to use the potty in public on occassion. He won't stay dry all night, but I think that's because we don't put him on the potty immediately upon waking in the morning like we should. He also has a more difficult time pooping in the potty. I get the impression that it's not comfortable for him to sit on the potty when he's pooping (humans are meant to squat instead of sit, did you know?). I really wish he was more consistent with pooping, but oh well. I'd love for him to be potty independent before the next baby comes. Only one in diapers at a time!

While I haven't full-time ECed, we haven't used any potty training methods (sticker charts, candies, etc). I have read to Margaret and Isaac while they're on the potty, but that's not too different from most people I know: we all read on the toilet! I think that the moments we did EC made me more aware of the kids' pottying needs. Also, I think it's a parent-thing to have that little nagging in the back of your head, "He hasn't gone in a while... maybe you should get him on the potty." You just have to listen to that.

I'm not sure if we did anything particularly special. Of all the things we've done, I think the naked butt time has been the most helpful. Whether or not it makes the kids more aware of pottying, I don't know, but it definitely makes me more aware. At 2, the process is mostly getting them to the potty when they need it. I don't remember how it transitioned to the kid going on their own- it was pretty seamless. Yes, there were misses and I've cleaned poop and pee from carpet and wood and tile. I try really hard not to get upset or shame them when that happens, though they have heard a few exasperated, "WHY didn't you go earlier?" I need to work on that.

I'm kind of afraid this post sounds like, "My children magically potty trained and it's all perfect and happy." It's not. But I never made potty learning a "thing" I had to do or attempt or start. For us it hasn't been an event, it's been a process.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Universe has Spoken

About that carfree thing...

So the plan was to return the SUV to McKay's uncle tomorrow and do it! We signed up for Zipcar and already reserved the car for going to church on Sunday. Well, McKay's signed up for Zipcar. They have been sitting on my application for over a week and haven't responded as to why it's been held up; I emailed them a couple of days ago with no luck. My California license was approved right away, I'm guessing it's related to the Utah one. Because I was using my Utah license until it expired last year, I haven't had my California one for a full year yet and so they have to check my driving record in Utah as well. Which is clean. Because I'm a pretty good driver. I gave them the Utah license information last Thursday and now it's the next Friday. ARG.

Ah, but I was writing in past tense, wasn't I? "The plan was..." Yes, it was. And we will be using the Zipcar Sunday, but not because we're officially starting our carfree life on Sunday. We're starting it today.

Last night we went to a ward potluck and saw The Fiddler on the Roof, which is playing at the Woodminster Theater. We paid for parking, unlike last year when we parked on the street and walked, and went in to the show at 7:30. At intermission, we decided to leave because the kids needed to sleep (and the second half of Fiddler is kind of depressing and all the fun songs are in the first half anyway) and got to the car. As I was getting Isaac in I noticed glass.

"McKay, there's glass on the floor here."

And then I realized the passenger window was broken. McKay's one-of-a-kind-only-Pixar-employees-in-his-department-have-one messenger bag was gone. The glove compartment was open, and the leftover salad from the potluck (which was from our CSA, so all fancy and organic and local) was filled with shards of glass. McKay informed his uncle of the burglary while I made a report with the police. By the way, if you ever have to call the Oakland police to make a report, you'll probably wait 10 minutes until you get someone.

When we came home, we put the kids to bed and cleaned away as much glass as we could. Two years of living in Oakland and we've finally been burglarized! And it wasn't even near our house, where you'd think things like this would happen, especially since we have to park in the street every night.

We think the thief was after McKay's bag because it's just the right size to hold a laptop. Except he never carries his laptop in it unless we are going on a roadtrip. So, plus!

While I was on the phone with the police last night, I walked around in the woods thinking the thief, after discovering there was nothing of value in the bag, would throw it into the trees. No luck.

McKay was really distraught last night. He played some World of Warcraft, which I figured would help him calm down, but when we went to bed he said he didn't even want to play and was only playing because Margaret had asked him to while I was putting Isaac down. Everything in the bag was replaceable, except for the bag itself. I set Craigslist alerts for "laptop bag" and "messenger bag" and told him I'd be on the lookout.

This morning after McKay took the car to a shop, he got a call from someone who found the bag next to their car (along with a couple of other bags). McKay's phone number was in it and the finder said he could take it to him today!

When McKay got it back at lunch today, his graphing calculator, headphones, Excedrin, and cough drops were gone. His papers, allergy medicine and even the Disneyland passes were still there. This thief wasn't too bright if s/he left those. Those are worth something! The graphing calculator had some sentimental value, since it's the first thing he started programming on. That'll tell you how old and "valuable" that calculator is. McKay promised the man who found his bag a tour of Pixar for him and his daughter next month as a "thank you."

So... The borrowed vehicle is in the shop to get a new window and we have jumped into the carfree life a couple of days early. I'm going grocery shopping today. The two closest grocery stores are the Berkeley Bowl and Trader Joe's, both on the healthier end of things. We will probably be eating better because of this carfree life: having to carry the groceries home on a bike or on foot is going to mean I'll buy fewer snacks and impulse purchases. Saving money in more ways than 1!

Also an unforeseen benefit of going carfree: no more car burglaries!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First Birth Dream

I have lots of dreams all the time (the honey badger made an appearance in one last week), but I had my first birth dream this pregnancy a couple of nights ago.

It was interesting. I had a midwife, but I had my baby at her house instead of in my own house. I had the baby while I was upright over some towels and caught her myself. When the baby was born she was small: almost so small I didn't think she'd live very long. I didn't think she'd be able to latch on to nurse, but I decided to try anyway, remember that skin to skin contact is still good for premies even if nursing can't happen right away.

To my surprise the baby, whom we named Emma, did well at the breast and grew noticeably by at least 3 pounds. I was reclined in a bed at this point (for nursing). There was noise outside the room because the midwife had some friends over and when they heard I had my baby 20-30 people were trying to come into the room to see. I just wanted them to go away. I told them to leave, but they wouldn't. Many came and sat down on the bed I was in. The midwife was telling them to leave, but was not particularly assertive and McKay wasn't really active in helping either. It got to the point where I was having to yell at and physically kick people off the bed myself, which actually hurt since I had just given birth and my vagina was still healing from that.

So that was interesting.

I think it reveals some of my fears about getting a midwife: will she be able to protect my birthing space? Will a midwife + apprentice(s?) be too many people for me to deal with?

The baby being small and then growing was interesting. It really was pretty small at first, a little bigger than my hand. One of the thoughts that went through my head was, "I haven't been taking my vitamins regularly, did I do this to my baby?" My nutrition, while not as bad as it has been in the past, hasn't been at its peak and I think that's on my mind.

As far as the sex of the baby, I don't put a lot of faith in that as far as indicating the sex of my real baby. When I had Margaret I had one more girl dream than boy dream (something like 3 vs. 2 or 4 vs. 3, I don't remember) and I don't consider that statistically significant in predicting sex. Also, it's highly unlikely that we'll name a baby Emma. Nothing against the name- it was on my list at one point- it's just not on the list at the moment.

It was a revealing dream for me. In real life, I'm still undecided about whether to UC again or go with a midwife. I need to restock my urine test strips (I threw them out when they expired) and get a confirmation of pregnancy from a midwife/doctor/nurse/Planned Parenthood if we go the UP/UC route. Also, the kids were playing too roughly with my fetoscope and I have to fix some of the tubing. I measured my fundus the other day and it surprised me that I'm actually pregnant. I'm not measuring big or anything, it's just that in my head I keep thinking of this baby as the size of a bean instead of various fruits. I hope that means this pregnancy will go faster than I expect.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Braxton Hicks and Afterpains

When I was pregnant with Margaret, I remember having Braxton Hicks contractions during the last few months. They were painless and I'd only notice them if I happened to touch my belly and realize that it was hard as a rock. I then went on to have a long labor with Margaret (44 hours) and pretty rough afterpains for 2-3 days.


I've always felt that those afterpains were a direct result of the long labor. "They" say that for the first child, you don't normally feel afterpains, but that they do get subsequently harder each child. I figured I was "lucky" enough to have hard afterpains after the first because the labor was long and after two days of my uterus working hard, my uterus was fatigued and my afterpains were amplified by muscle soreness.

With Isaac I started noticing Braxton Hicks pretty early- about 15 weeks? Maybe a little earlier. They felt like dull period cramps. I didn't really get back into shape between Margaret and Isaac, so I assumed that feeling the Braxton Hicks contractions was leftover uterus weariness. It's not like you can really "work out" your uterus between pregnancies anyway. Not consciously, at least. By the end of my pregnancy with Isaac, I remember having regular Braxton Hicks- even 5 minutes apart, almost labor-like, if I sat in certain positions. I remember one 2-hour car ride that was just miserable. I wasn't in labor but they were very regular and painful. I just attributed those rough Braxton Hicks to a tired uterus from my first pregnancy. I also decided that if Braxton Hicks were bad while riding in a car, labor contractions would really suck and that if I could avoid needing to drive or ride in a car during labor, I would.

Then my afterpains... Oh dear. They lasted for a while, at least 5 days. My labor with Isaac wasn't long (5 and a half hours), but it was intense. Again, I figured my lack of getting back into shape and my first hard labor was contributing to my tired uterus.

This time around I started feeling Braxton Hicks at 7 weeks. They aren't painful (yet), but I definitely notice them. I did get back into shape, so I was hoping the aches and pains of pregnancy would hold off, but I guess I'm not lucky like that. 

The transition from hard afterpains with Margaret to early and more difficult Braxton Hicks with Isaac has made me think there might be a connection between feeling Braxton Hicks contractions and strong afterpains, but to my knowledge, there hasn't been any research connecting the two. I'm a sample size of 1, so my experience could be an outlier. Maybe my uterus is tired. Or maybe I'm just more aware of what it is doing. 

Has anyone felt like there's a connection? It seems to me that a tired uterus is going to lend itself to harder afterpains and more noticeable Braxton Hicks, but it's just a hypothesis. I'm a little worried about the afterpains I'm going to experience after this next baby. The only thing I can think to do for it is to drink some red raspberry leaf tea in hopes that it'll tone my uterus and help stave off the harder afterpain contractions. Or maybe I should take a birthing class to learn techniques for mitigating pain in labor and use those for my afterpains. Or just take a bunch of painkillers when the time comes.

Is there anything to do to prevent hard afterpains? Do you think a tired uterus is just going to be tired? And have you noticed a relationship between Braxton Hick and afterpains?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Easing into Carfree

We are slowly, but surely, getting everything in place for going carfree. We will try it for a couple of weeks or a month and then decide if we like it. If we do, we'll cancel the car insurance and go. If we don't, we'll get a new car.

So far we have signed up for Zipcar and today I'm getting my Clipper pass for the BART and buses. I think McKay will want to use Zipcar more than me. For example, we have a date scheduled in downtown San Francisco on the 28th this month. Going from a bus to the BART and to the music hall will take an hour. Driving? 20 minutes. Personally, I love public transportation. It's like a mini-adventure! Is it obvious that I'm a Sagittarius?

We'll see who wins the arm wrestle for the BART vs. Zipcar that night.

I've also been checking bus and BART schedules for all the errands I'm running. At the moment, I am still using the vehicle we're borrowing, but I like to check the schedules so I have an idea of what life will be like in a week or two. Surprisingly, the bus ride to the park we're planning on going to today is only supposed to be half an hour. Driving is 15-20 minutes. And extra 10-15 minutes doesn't bother me at all: sometimes it takes me that long to get the kids in the car! Ok, that's a little much, but I'm not a very fast buckler. It always amazes me how quickly other parents can get their kids in a car and buckled  and drive off, especially when we leave a park at the same time. I'm just slow.

In other news, the house thing is not happening. They decided they'd rather fix up the house (aka bring it up to code and do some cosmetic changes) and then sell it to us. You know, when it's an extra $200k. They aren't working on it particularly fast, so maybe we have time to save up the extra money for the higher downpayment? I hope so. I'd still like that house even though it'll be a duplex instead of a single family home. Location is still great and neighbors are still great and the yard will still be large.

Because of the house disappointment, I've been looking around our house and realizing that it's a wreck. Because we were hoping to move soon-ish, we never fully settled in. It's time to buy shelving and furniture that actually works with our space so it looks less like "hey these people got everything for free/cheap and are still living like they did in college."Our landlords are fine with us painting and putting holes in walls, so we have some options.

So that's that for now. Weekend is happening soon! The Ravelympics Ravellenics are coming up and I don't have a team or event. Need to jump on that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

To drive or Not to drive...

Our car died last weekend. Well, it was fixable if we wanted to spend $2000 on a 14 year old car. We didn't.

We're currently borrowing a vehicle from a family member. It's a Suburban which is huge and isn't very parallel-parking-friendly in our almost only-street-parking-allowed East Bay. (Can I add more hyphens to that sentence?) Having a Suburban available to me is limiting where I can go.

Now we have to decide what to do. McKay wants to buy a newer car. In fact, he wants the bells and whistles and get a certified pre-owned fancy warranty car. I, on the other hand, see a price tag of $30,000 and my jaw drops. That seems a little much for a vehicle to me. Maybe I'm out of touch with the world since I've only bought cars off of Craigslist, but yeah. We lived off of less than $30,000/year for a few years and putting that much money on a vehicle you'll need to replace within 20 years and never be able to bring its value up to where you bought it? That seems a bit indulgent.

Personally, I'd like to try going carless. Almost everything is within 3 miles of our house: the grocery store, the parks, LLL, the dentist, etc. The only regular issue is getting to church since the bus line by the church only runs Monday through Friday. But getting a Zipcar for Sundays would be about $160/month and the insurance and gas is free. Bring that out to a year, and it's a lot cheaper than making payments and paying for gas, insurance, and upkeep. Yes, there would be times when we'd  need to rent a car (vacations, the county fair, etc), but doing that every couple of months is still cheaper than car payments and all the extras of owning a car. We have buses, BART, bikes (and alliteration!). I think it would work. I would probably have to get rides for evening things I go to (quilt group, knitting group, book group, etc) or figure out the buses at very late in the evenings, but lots of the other attendees get rides, so that's not unheard of. It might also disqualify us for callings in the youth program at church since a lot of the youth leaders' job here is to give rides to the kids to church and the youth programs. That can be good or bad depending on your own experience with youth callings.

If we really want to get serious about going carfree, we can save our money for those nice Dutch bikes that can fit 3 kids on them. Put money in hardy bikes that can handle the extra mileage.

So here we are. We do have one eye open on possible vehicles, but I think I'd like to try going car-free for a couple of weeks to see how it is.

Anyone else go car-free? Did you get quads of steel from biking everywhere? What was the biggest hurdle? What was your favorite thing about it? If you gave it up, how long did you carfree time last and why did you go back to owning a vehicle?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Inquisition Monday

My friend over at 5inthebed asked me an Inquisition Monday question.

Are you still doing inquisition monday? I wanted to pick your brains on your thoughts regarding UP/UC and how you feel about it all since you've done it twice now. If you had another baby is there anything you would do differently? I know you had awesome labour support with McKay, but how would you prepare if you knew he wouldn't necessarily be around and there was noone else you really felt comfortable having around? You've probably covered a lot of this already. It's early here and I shouldn't be awake. apologies if this is rambley!

Sure, I'll still do Inquisition Monday! I haven't been very interesting lately, so no questions have been coming in.

If I had another baby, is there anything I'd do differently? Well, I guess we'll find out this winter! McKay is a little nervous about another UC, especially when we do have the means to pay $4000 for a homebirth midwife. I call it 3rd baby syndrome: in almost all the pregnancy forums I've visited in the past, it's very common for people to start thinking, "We got lucky 2 times... can I do a third?" from everything to homebirth to vaginal birth (as opposed to needing a cesarean), to having a kid with special needs or other medical complications at birth. Personally, if everything goes as it normally has, I think we'll UC. But if something comes up I'll definitely consider extra help. My only worry is that by the time I find out I'll need help, all the midwives will be booked up.

What's exceptionally cool here that didn't happen in Utah is that the midwife will come to your home for every prenatal check up! That's pretty cool, especially if you have other kids that have to tag along to appointments.

Other things to do differently: maybe get a babysitter for the kids. It was a little annoying that 2 year old Margaret was patting the pool as I was trying to lean on it. Of course, it depends on what time of day the labor is. I would feel bad calling someone to watch my kids at 2 in the morning, even if I had previously arranged the babysitting. Margaret probably would have been at Isaac's birth even if we had a babysitter lined up for that reason: she woke around 4/4:30 in the morning and I couldn't nurse her to sleep, so she was awake. Isaac was born around 7:30 in the morning, so I don't think I would have bothered a babysitter for those times. At 2 in the afternoon? Sure.

I would really love a photographer or videographer or to do a time lapse video. The first two options there mean extra people will be around and I don't really like that, but good pictures and video need professionals. Our computer can take time lapse films with the built-in camera, so there's that option. Just position it and go. I'm thinking time lapse in case the birth is really long: takes up less space on the hard drive.

I might not nurse all the way to the end of the pregnancy. Isaac turns 2 in a week and if he ends up weaning after that on his own, I'm ok with that that. That was my plan for Margaret as well, and she ended up nursing all the way through. So who knows? They're different people, but he really does love nursing.

If I didn't have McKay, what would I have done? I'm not sure. I'm pretty stubborn and I'm definitely the kind of person who would have gone ahead with it anyway. In fact, even before I was seriously considering UC as an option, I was telling McKay, "Oh someday you'll come home and find out I had a baby!" But it's definitely a hard position to be in: do you go into a birth without the people you want support from? or do you birth with attendants you don't want support from? Which one is going to cause more stress for you in labor? You want to be in the most calm place (mentally, physically, emotionally) you can be and that's going to be different for everyone.

So I hope that helps. More questions are always welcome. And sorry for posting late (I know you won't get this until Tuesday over in the UK!) We just got back from a trip and our car died and so life's been up in the air. And I have to go do homework now.