Sunday, July 31, 2011

The North Face

Beep took her own sweet time walking, but now she toddles just about everywhere.  She's into everything, and I like seeing her figure stuff out on her own.

At the barn this weekend, she strategized her approach to the aisle.  It took a minute for her to evaluate her options.  She was, after all, stranded on top of the mat, and it's a pretty serious drop.  We're talking a wicked north face descent.

It called for some serious downhill maneuvers.

I'm telling you, this kid is part sherpa.

I have her booked on the next flight to Nepal.  It's K2 time.

You So Pretty: Homemade Pore Strips

So you know when you've just had a supercrazy busy kinda weekend?  And it wasn't bad- it was all pretty good- but you're just... worn out.  Achy back.  Tired legs.  But the baby was just as tired, so she's already asleep...  And you have an unexpected few minutes to yourself?  Yeah.  It's that kinda Sunday night. 

Maybe it's time to make yourself pretty...  Not that you're not already.  You so pretty. 

As for me, I'm spiffing myself up a little, which will be just in time for our wedding anniversary tomorrow! 

So I found this how-to for homemade pore strips on Petit Elephant.  It only takes a couple of ingredients, and a couple of minutes. 

I spread this liquid pore strip alllllllll over my face... that's gotta be, like, $30 worth of Biore pore strips.  But homemade, it only cost me a few cents. 

I love stickin' it to the man.

When it peeled off it left my skin soft, clean, and de-pored.   Amazing.  And now I'm suddenly and seriously addicted to spreading gelatin on my face.  (The only thing I didn't love was the hot milk smell, but it only lasts a couple of minutes.)  Check it out. 

Oh- and when you visit Petit Elephant, just because I love ya, I'll tell you there's also a mind-blowing solution for shattered eyeshadows.           

I gotta go- The Marriage Ref is on, and it's time to choose sides.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Junior Chronicles: Part 13, The Long Road Home

Remember, weeks ago, when Cabbage and I were planning this stall layout?  

So much hope was put into this simple stall.  We hoped Junior would need it, that we'd bring him home and we'd have use for a space to let him convalesce. 

But hope doesn't always save horses, and this stall almost stayed empty.        

Prayers, medicine, a change in our luck, whatever...

This morning, it happened: Junior came home.   

And now, his stall looks like this.

Welcome home, Junior.  We're so glad you're here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Few Minutes With A Good Dog

I've had Georgie since 1999, when she wandered onto the horse farm where I worked.  I saw her sitting underneath a tree at the end of the drive.  She was a pathetic sight: a starving, dingy little grey mutt with every rib and vertebrae showing through her thin, straggly hair.  As I approached, I saw she was eating grasshoppers to stay alive, but she clearly wasn't making it.  The dog started to trot away, as strays will, and I said No, no, little dog.  You can stay.  She immediately trotted over to me, sat down, and let me stroke her black head.

From that moment, Georgie never let me out of her sight.  As I rode horses in the summer heat, she would watch from the shade underneath the horse trailer.  If I went into the barn, she'd camp out at the end of the aisle, in the doorway.  Little by little, she allowed me to get closer until I could pet her at will. 

I named her Georgie, after one of my favorite artists, Georgia O'Keeffe.  Almost immediately, I also started calling her JoJo.  She has been my constant companion: at my side through cross-country moves, through breakups and job changes, through new love and marriage, through deaths and births.  JoJo and I are a team.

JoJo was Beep's third word- right after Mama and Dada.  Beep knows who's important on Cabbage Ranch.

JoJo is about 13 years old now, and her joints ache.  She no longer runs alongside my car at 30 miles per hour.  She can't hear me calling to her from the back door, and I had to stop taking her with me on runs.  But she's still my girl.

Last night JoJo and I went on a little tour of Cabbage Ranch.

We checked on the mares, and called them up to enjoy the mister hanging from the tree limb.

In her old age, Georgie no longer wants to chase the horses.  The mares approve. 

That's Goldie on the left, and Cedar on the right.  Cedar is Junior's mother.

Next, we noticed that even the birds' nests around Cabbage Ranch have horsehair.  It's a theme.

Then Georgie and I took a look at a pretty prickly pear.

Live oaks framed our view of the sky as the sinking sun lengthened the shadows on the ground. 

All this exploring (in 104 degree heat) made Georgie tired.  She settled down for a rest, in a central location, so she could still keep an eye on everything.

This looks like a good spot.  She's figuring out the best way to ease down.

Getting closer...

And she's down...and pulling a sticker out of her paw. 

All in a day's work, for a good dog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And For My Next Act I Shall Attempt to Do This One Better

I didn't sleep well last night.  I was sleepy just before bedtime, then couldn't actually get to sleep until after midnight.  Tonight, I need to get more rest. 

My run this morning was ok, but needed to be a little longer, and a little faster.  Next time, I'll push harder.

I packed balanced meals for both Beep and me, and I did actually get them packaged in a respectable way.  I did not have this done last night, when I should have.  So...

...I was running late to get out the door.  What else is new?  Beep and I were late to the babysitter's, and I was a few minutes late to work.  I have got to fix that.

Today, I am clearing things off my desk, but it could be more.  I'll keep adding to my task list, and hopefully I'll stay on track.

My food choices today have been pretty good, but can always be better.  I should eat some kale or nutritional yeast or something.  My caffeine consumption is under control, but it's not at zero.  I need a Diet Coke.

As for my outfit, I have to say meh.  It's clothing.  One of these days I should take more interest/spend more time/iron something.

After work, I'll pick up Beep and wonder how I survived those 9 hours without her.  I'll have to do it again tomorrow.

I'll use the drive home to make a long overdue call to some long-neglected person, whom I'll talk to in between negotiating rush hour traffic and saying Hang on, I need to feed Beep some more Cheerios.  I'll hang up in a rush, with that person asking me to not wait so long to call next time.  I'll work on that. 

When I see Sam tonight, I know I will want to ride but it'll be too hot, and too late, by then.  I should have ridden harder last weekend.

Home will be semi-messy and semi-clean, and I will surely wish it looked more like a magazine.  Hopefully I'll be struck by a sudden fit of cleaning motivation. 

I'll do laundry, we'll cook dinner and tackle the dishes.  I'll bathe Beep and spend some quiet time putting her to bed.  Cabbage and I will talk for a few minutes before we go to bed ourselves, and soon enough it will start all over again.

It's not easy trying to be all things to all parts of my life.  I try, try, try for good priorities but I often wonder if I'm slipping.  It's a balancing act, and during these long days it's easy to lose perspective.  There's no such thing as a day when everything is done, and I am pretty sure I'm never gonna be completely happy with myself. 

I'll just keep trying to do it all, and do it better. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Weekend Foray Into Toddlerhood

Beep is 16 months old, and sometimes I wonder where my baby went.  I have loved every stage and every age, and I couldn't pick a favorite if I had to.  Every day is more fun, and it is fascinating to see her become her own person.

Take this weekend, for instance, when I noticed she finally had grown enough hair to have bedhead.

Hey, man.  Don't knock the rooster tail.  It took us 16 months to get that sprout going.  Baby mullet, here we come.

And then she used a spoon to eat breakfast.

Cabbage, you're on clean-up today.  Heh, heh.

She rode on Cabbage's shoulders on the way to lunch.  (This is the same spot Cabbage and I had an engagement portrait taken.  How things have changed...  And by things, I mean my thighs.  Oh- and the extra person we created.) 

Instead of eating, lunchtime was spent on socialization: checking out kids at other tables and waving bye-bye to everyone who walked past. 

Sometimes I can't believe how fast she's growing.  These small advances add up to Beep learning to make her own way in the world. 

Be still, my heart.   

But then, in uploading pics for this post, I saw this picture of her hand with Cabbage's hand and I felt better. 

She's still a ways off from driver's ed.

1280 Pounds of Patience

My horse, Sam, is often difficult to ride.  Do not be fooled by this graced-by-the-angelic-light-of-heaven picture.

He's given to occasional fits of drama and hyperactivity, and these qualities make him amusing and challenging (and sometimes infuriating).  One thing they do not make him is kid-friendly.

Standing next to Sam on the ground, it's hard not to notice his size.  He is 16.3 hands tall, which means he measures 5'7" at the shoulders.  The last time we put him on a scale he weighed 1,280 pounds.

Beep worries about none of this when she sees Sam.  She just knows she loves this "harse."  Sam loves her, too, and he puts forth his sweetest, most tolerant side.

Can Beep pull at his nose skin?  Sure.

Yank on his forelock?  You bet.

 He regards Beep, planning her next assault, and his only reaction is to squint.

Next, a pull on his whisker.

And finally, a gentle pet.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Homemade Baby Wipes

Anytime Beep gets a diaper rash, I switch her to cloth diapers and slather on the Butt Paste.  She usually heals quickly, but it always makes me mad and leaves me with a nagging wonder about the chemicals she's exposed to because of my diapering choices.

Surely I'm not the only one who's creeped out by disposable diapers.  I mean, they're so unnatural that they won't compost or rot, yet we wrap our babies in them 24/7 and let them soak for hours at a time...  But that's a question for another post.

In my musings about Beep's butt-encounters with diapering chemicals, one item I hadn't considered until recently was her disposable wipes.  Like parents everywhere, I really don't want to ponder life without them... so I probably just didn't want to look a gift horse in the yapper.  But what exactly are in those wonderful little wipes?  Why aren't they friendly to newborn skin?  What makes them ok for my toddler, especially when her little hiney is recovering from the latest bout of diaper rash? 

And of course, the "natural" ones we like are 2-3 cents per wipe.  Not gonna break the bank, but...  cost + questions = Katie's looking for a recipe to make wipes.

One quick google search later, I had this recipe.

2 c water
2 T favorite baby wash
1 T baby oil
1 roll of paper towels, cut in half (to fit in plastic container) with cardboard center roll removed

**UPDATE: For best results, use good quality, cloth-like paper towels.  Overandout.**

Mix water, wash and oil together in the container, and place the 1/2 roll of paper towels in the mixture.  Cover, wait a few minutes, then turn it upside down.  Wait a few minutes, and turn right side up.  You're done!  Custom wipes! 

Quick, simple, and I figure the cost is about 1/2 cent per wipe. 

I love that I can make them as natural as I want.  Today I used stuff I happened to have on hand, but I could go all granola on this deal and use unbleached paper towels, a natural soap, and pure mineral oil or (I would think) olive oil.  If you have a newborn you don't want to use soap on, just use the basic idea and omit the soap and oil.

The only thing I don't like about these wipes is hacking cutting the paper towel roll in half.  I'm not gonna lie.  It got pretty gnarly.

If you come up with a good way to cut the paper towel roll cleanly, please share.  Buzzsaw?  Laser beam?

**UPDATE: Cabbage used a hacksaw on the next roll, and it worked much better than a kitchen knife.  Not a completely clean cut, but better than the one above that looks like it was cut by squirrels.  You know.  With their little teeth.**

Otherwise, enjoy!  This is a great baby-friendly, budget-wise option for customized disposable wipes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why His Name Is Junior

I was not able to have my own horse growing up, but I was incredibly fortunate to have Megan, who shared her horse with me.  His name was Carob. 

Carob was a sweet and self-contained jumper with incredible athleticism and a long and interesting life story.  He was born in Utah and trained in chariot racing, a breakneck sport that left him with sure feet but permanently swollen joints.  After making his way to Wisconsin, he was taught to do barrels, which made him miserable and left him desperately unhappy, thin, and dull.  When Megan bought him, there were hopes he'd be better at jumping, but really there was no telling how he'd turn out.

He turned out phenomenally.  Carob was not huge, but could jump the moon.  He was lightning fast, incredibly agile, and technically correct.  With a good rider, he could work through a national-level jumper course with ease and finish ready for more.  Carob was also tolerant of youth equitation patterns and basic hunter courses, and would compete in a flat class with willingness.  He was very difficult to ride, and it took me years to make "us" appear effortless.  I'm grateful for that- he made me a good rider.

Most of all, though, I just loved Carob.  He was a fast and loyal friend, a challenge, and an outlet during my teenage years.  When I left for college 1,200 miles away, I missed him.  On visits during school breaks, every day started with a trip to the barn (and then I'd make time to visit people). 

When Carob was retired a few years later, I'd visit him at the equine old folks' home.  There, I'd feed him carrots and brush him until he walked away, then hang over the fence and just watch him.


By 2007, Carob had been retired for many years.  He was 28, his health was failing, and it was time to ease him out of this world.  I flew back to Wisconsin.

Saying goodbye to Carob was sad but I was grateful to be there with Megan. After Carob was gone, the two of us spent the rest of the day together.  She gave me his halter, which I treasure.

Later that day I called Cabbage.  He listened to my story of our day filled with Carob, and then told me his new colt had been born that same day, just hours after Carob died.

I asked Cabbage if we could pay tribute to Carob with this new colt's name, and he agreed.  And so the leggy, fairer-than-the-rest foal was named after the horse I loved first, and nicknamed Junior.   

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Junior Chronicles: Part 12

Junior turned some kind of internal corner yesterday, and he seems to be feeling much more like his old self.  He's bright and perky!     

We were hoping to bring him home today, but those plans have been delayed until at least tomorrow.  The vet is tweaking his wound care.  See the pack taped to his side?

He's wearing it because his incision has some discharge. 

For those of you who are faint of heart, well, you're 1.) probably not reading this blog filled with gut problems, rectal palpations, and surgeries, 2.) definitely not a hard-core horse dork like yours truly, and 3.) totally nauseous by now anyway, so I'll press on.


This apparently isn't an indicator of a major complication, it just is something that needs to be monitored and resolved.  I'm not sure what the pack does (I'll post more when I do know), but here's a close-up of the mysterious thingamabob doing its enigmatic equine-healing-voodoo-magic. 

Yep, that's the view of his incision, with a [we'll call it a] suction cup attached to a [somekinda] tube, which leads to the [magical healing powers] pack.  It's all covered by a piece of [plastic wrap?] adhesive sheet. 

I don't know what it is.  Or how it works.

Aren't you glad I'm steering this ship?

That's Katie, DVM.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

They Love Their Babies Just As Much

Whether you like Dooce or not, you gotta give her some credit for shining some mega-blog light on maternal health issues in developing countries.  Add to that the recent NPR special series on maternal healthcare around the world, and it got me thinking, which is- after all- the point... 

Growing up, I always felt like I was born in the wrong century. I wanted to help Ma and Pa water the stock and travel the country in a covered wagon.  As I grew, though, I heard about "old" diseases like polio and malaria, and I quickly grasped that the seeming romanticism of pioneering would have also meant risk from diseases I didn't need to fear.  I appreciated vaccines.

(I should note I was still afraid of the test I thought was for TV and might reveal I'd been watching too much.  It was some years before I understood I was being tested for TB, not TV)

The older I become, the more I appreciate medical advances and the full-throttle pace of developments in understanding our human health, and treating us when we fall ill.  This was never more true than when I was pregnant.

My preggers attitude was: load me up, titre my levels, inject me with protection.  I peed in a cup every time I was told...  Which was a lot.  I took my prenatal vitamins, even though they upset my stomach.  I happily accepted vaccines, and I believe they are safe.
Like most expecting mothers, I researched gestation and birth.  And while I can't say I was fearful of birth, I was keenly aware it presented a real risk to my life, and that of my unborn child.

My water broke in the middle of the night.  SURPRISE!!!  At the hospital, I received drugs to help induce contractions.  Hooray for modern medicine!  I battled through twelve hours of contractions, until they were blurring together and I was exhausted.  My baby was holding up fine, which we knew from a monitor the doctor screwed into her scalp.  Again, thanks to modern medicine.

When I was told it would still be hours before we could even think about a delivery, I gratefully accepted an epidural and rested comfortably.  Double hooray!

At the 20 hour mark, I was told I would probably have a C-section, which I was ok with.  Yep, you bet- cut me open, just get my baby here safely.  Thank you for options, modern medicine.

But things started to look better, and I was allowed to deliver her myself.  Thanks to the epidural, I had the energy to get her here when she needed me the most.  When a team of NICU specialists flooded the room, I knew that wasn't good.  I looked at the doctor, and at Cabbage, and my heart filled with fear.  I understood my baby was in trouble, and I redoubled my efforts.  I used every muscle fiber in my tired body to force her from me, to deliver her into the hands of the doctors, to save her.  She was born.

And she didn't breathe.

 The NICU team resuscitated our precious baby, laid her in my arms for just a moment, then before I could even fully comprehend that she was my baby, they whisked her away, running down the hallway.  Cabbage ran behind, following them deeper into the hospital and toward more modern medicine.

Beep was hooked up to monitors, IVs, and a multitude of things that sang, squawked, and chirped according to changes within her body.  Modern medicine. 

Beep did well, improved rapidly, and within a couple of days was allowed to leave the NICU for my room in the maternity ward.  Out came the IVs, off went the monitors, and away (forever!) went the straps and cords.  We were able to take her home soon after.

Our frightening delivery had a happy ending.  But without our blessed modern medicine, she would likely not have been born alive, and I might not have made it, either.

When I think of women giving birth without modern medical care, and their babies struggling to survive, I can all too easily put myself in their place.  It's only a matter of geography and income.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Junior Chronicles: Part 11, Complete with Barn Remodeling and Chocolate

Happily, Junior improves more with each passing day.  He looks better today than he did yesterday, and although his temperature is hovering on the high end of normal, it's not escalating to an actual fever.

It's been about 98 degrees here.  I think he's entitled to be hot.

It's been five days since Junior's surgery, and two weeks since he became sick.  We are looking forward to bringing him home within the next five days or so, and moving forward with the next chapter of his young life: healing.

We aren't normally set up for equine convalescence, and our mares live in our pasture.  We have just one stall set up in our little barn, and it's used rarely and briefly.  Junior will need some time in semi-confinement, so Cabbage has started some rearranging. 

We use panels whenever possible, which don't look great but they are extremely functional and flexible.  I'd like to think someday we'll have them spotlessly painted, or better yet have miles of beautiful fencing subdividing lovely picture-perfect pastures tended carefully by our staff of dedicated employees... 

Whatever.  We'll stick with rusted panels.  And keep buying lotto tickets (with cash option and multiplier). 

In this case, it's been a cinch for us (Cabbage) to easily rearrange (drag around) panels to make room in our barn for an oversized stall.  To accomplish this, he stole panels from the mare pasture, which changed the area we use for feeding.  This proved very exciting to the girls. 

Any small changes in their pasture bears checking out.  In tandem.

The panels swiped from the mare pasture were then added to the stall in the barn, so Junior's new digs take up half our little barn. 

The plan is to add a few more panels to extend the stall out the front, which will then allow him a little runout.  He'll be able to choose sunshine and grass, or shade and shavings.  Add a couple of fans, and he'll be good to go. 

As a thank you for a few people who needed it (i.e. the folks at the vet clinic who've been providing round-the-clock care for Junior), on Sunday I baked Bhan's Toll House Cookies v2.0.  Nothin' better than some freshly baked, warm, yummy, amp'd up chocolate chip cookies.  Except for planning to bring Junior home.  That might be better.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday Runday

I have started running again.  I am out of shape.  It sucks.  The End.

I'm a great storyteller, n'est-ce pas?  (And-even better- I remember high school French!)

I gained about a million pounds while pregnant, and despite my best attempts to put off the inevitable, it appears the only way to lose them is through consistent exercise.  I surrender.  Here's the thing, though: I no longer enjoy going to the gym.  It's too much time away from my baby, and I get precious little of that during the week.  So instead, I canceled the gym membership (in my fat postnatal hour of need, sweetbabyjesus!) and run on the roads near our house.

So, during the week I drag myself outta bed and tie on my running shoes.  Off I go into the early morning darkness before the sun wakes up, at which point that merciless heavenly orb will take full advantage of another opportunity to fry us all to a seared crisp. 

Yesterday I waited till just after daylight, because it was Sunday and I wanted to sleep past 5:30am.  It was a sunny, humid 80 degrees when I left the house.  For reasons not entirely clear to myself, I decided to double my normal run with a different route.

I have mentioned that I live in the hill country, a fact that was never plainer to me than when my feet had to not just hover over an accelerator, but actually carry me up and over... one painful, wheezing step at a time.

My internal running monologue went like this.
It's hot.  Maybe it's too hot.  I might heatstroke.  I'm thirsty.  I should've brought a water bottle. 
My knees hurt.  What if I'm getting tendonitis?  Maybe I should walk further.
What am I thinking, running twice my normal distance?  Why didn't I ride Sam instead?  I hate running.
Soooo humid.
I can't do this. 
Watch for snakes.  I can't believe I have to watch for snakes.
My knees still hurt.  Maybe I won't be able to run very far, and I'll have to walk.  I hate walking even more.
I can't do this.
I hate running.
Shut up, Katie.

Eventually, the little Evil Katie Voice faded.  She was probably out of breath, gasping for air and sucking wind. 

On my way back, I tuned in just enough to realize just how much upward rise there is in this particular hill.  Oh, crap.

Suicide.  Maybe I should just stay here with my new friend.

But he wandered back into the trees and I was left alone.  I didn't like him anyway.  I kept running.

And then I saw a speck.

Little by little, the speck came closer and got bigger.  I smiled, and crossed the road to meet the speck.

Thank you for coming to rescue Mama.  I love you both forever,  But no thank you.  I'm almost there, and I'd better finish on my own.

Beep then made the *cuckoo* sign.

And off they went, back toward home.  I'm pretty sure I heard them cackling at my foolishness. 

(Not really.)

So it happened that I finished my run, newly galvanized by the memory of the redneck cavalry coming to my rescue.

Happy Monday, everyone!