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Doctor Pistachio

For the spewing of humor and rage, the melding of life and intellect, and any other news from Seattle

Updated: 2018-03-02T08:25:44.312-08:00




Wow, it is so fun to have a baby again.

Babies are so cute!!


And so entertaining!!!


They turn a regular ole' gal like me into a MOM with a FAMILY


And you can cuddle them even years later!! (although sometimes they fight a little)




Baby things you actually need


For baby #1, we had a big baby shower and got loads of stuff that I had carefully researched beforehand. And we bought even more stuff and got it all set up months in advance.

For baby #2, we bought a bunch of used stuff at a rummage sale about a month before our due date.

And as I was wondering out loud whether we had forgotten anything to a mom-friend with 3 kids she responded with "You don't really NEED anything, do you?"

And I realized, she's right! (sort of)

All you need for the baby is:

1. A carseat (if you have a car)
2. Diapers (although this, you don't even really need right away - the hospital gives you some!)

But seriously, there have definitely been some things we needed more than others.

Things we're glad we got:
1. Baby carrier (our favorites were the Moby and the Ergo)
2. Crib (and the book, "Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" which helps you get the baby to sleep in said crib)
3. Stroller (we got the kind you can pop the carseat into, and another one just for jogging - both were invaluable)
4. Video monitor (especially if you have a kid that has the uncanny ability to hurt themselves in any situation)
5. Pacifier (our babies would have been the end of us without this)
6. Swaddle (we liked the Miracle Swaddle for our bear-fighting baby #1 and the Kiddapodamus for our more mellow #2)
7. Breastpump - in Kansas, insurance now covers this! Yay!
8. Tylenol

Things we got but didn't need:
1. Coat - these shouldn't go on a baby that's strapped in to their car seat, and if you mostly drive everywhere then you'll never use it. INSTEAD you can get a carseat cover, or a carseat/stroller sleeping bag. Or if you're not feeling very fancy just use blankets.
2. Wipe warmer. A friend loaned us theirs to try. Not only did our baby not notice or care, but it had a little light on it that we eventually realized was waking our baby up at night! No thank you wipe warmer!!
3. Uncomfortable/cumbersome/ill-fitting/off-season clothes. And later, clothes that seemed perfect when purchased, that my kid just didn't like for some unknown reason. Unless you know you'll love it, buy used! SO much cheaper.
4. Shopping cart cover - we ended up with this somehow and never, ever used it. I could barely remember to bring the stuff I actually needed when I went out, much less this. And as a microbiologist I must say I don't think there are any more germs on a shopping cart than on all the other things my baby touches - which is pretty much everything.
5. Baby shoes - they just fall off! instead, get the little socks that look like shoes. So cute!!!

Things we got and didn't need but totally loved anyway:
1. Baby legs - those baby legwarmer thingies. Totally unnecessary but cute!
2. Bumbo chair/baby swing/rock-n-play - you can just set the baby on the couch or floor, but these things are quite handy.
3. Baby towel - obviously, you can use any old towel but the little monkey and duck towels are SO CUTE!!
4. A million extra bottles for the breast pump. Somehow I never had enough!
5. Changing table - you can talk yourself out of spending the $$ on it but then you get one and are so glad you did. And this is another one you can often buy used.
6. Bottle warmer - you think you can live without it and you can, but it really is nice.
7. Boppy pillow - I love mine so much I use it even when I don't have a baby around (like right now, to prop up my laptop). And I have taken it with me on many trips. But you can clearly just use a pillow.

I've mentioned this several times but can't say it enough: buying used is often way better - especially when you're not sure what you really need!

Happy babying!

Landon's birth story


As you may already know, Landon was born on Halloween. This was actually sort of planned. I was due November 2 (moved up from November 7), and given my age (38), history (baby #1 was induced at almost two weeks late), and how uncomfortable I was getting, we decided to induce on the first available day our doctor had the week I was due - which happened to be Halloween. We thought Halloween would be a fun birthday since it's one of our favorite holidays.Me at almost 40 weeks pregnant. I'm smiling but I was more than ready to be done!!!That morning, I ate a good breakfast and then the Studly Hubby and I headed to the hospital (Lawrence Memorial) for a 7:30 am induction. I guess they typically have 2-3 babies per day there, so it was all pretty routine for them even though it certainly wasn't for us. They started the pitocin drip on me at about 8:30. My contractions progressively got worse and worse. When they became truly uncomfortable, at around 1 pm, I had an epidural. Very quickly after that, the contractions got much worse and I was ready to push by about 3 pm (sometimes the epidural can speed things along, which seems to be what happened to me). Before I started pushing, we noticed that the baby's heart rate was dropping sometimes during the contractions. It kept coming back up afterwards, but the doctor warned me that if it doesn't come back up we might need to get him out quickly. I started pushing at about 4:00 pm. My doctor had to leave by around 5:00 to take her kids out trick or treating, so we were all hoping I would be done by then. I gave it three good hard pushes and we could see enough of the baby's head to tell he had a LOT of dark dark hair (just like his big sister!!) but he wasn't coming all the way out. On the second and third push his heart rate dropped and didn't immediately come back. We knew we had to get him out quickly, so the doctor decided to pull him out with a vacuum. She suctioned it to the baby's head on the fourth push and hauled him right out. He came out pretty easily and it didn't hurt thanks to the epidural but it was quite traumatic for me and I needed a lot of stitches afterwards. It didn't help that he was HUGE - 9 lb 7 oz. They had no idea he was going to be that big - we had even done an ultrasound the week before we he born to check this as his uncle Alex was 10 lb 12 oz at birth and I was worried he might be big too.He had a healthy cry right away and was put on my chest so we could see each other. He was sooo cute! And completely looked like his big sister.He was a bit angry at first but then settled down and seemed pretty happy to meet the nurses and get a little sponge bath. He was a good eater and a good sleeper from the very first night - he slept hard for about 3 hrs at a time at night and let us parents get a good night's rest. He passed his hearing test with flying colors and got a little pumpkin hat, and  got to meet his big sister the next day.Landon and Layla met for the very first time the day after he was born. We were so excited for our two kids to meet each other! She was ECSTATIC but also a little bit nervous about coming to the hospital and seeing how we were doing. She waited until after school was out and her Grandma brought her over. She was practically bouncing off the walls when we let her in the room. She had loved him with all her heart from the minute she knew he was in my belly. Baby #1 meets baby #2The Studly Hubby's Studly mommy also got to meet him and she absolutely adored him.Nobody could believe how big he was, or how dark his hair was. I couldn't believe how much my butt hurt, and how much the Studly Hubby remembered about babies. We stayed in the hospital for two days, and had an easy transition home largely because Grandma stayed on for about a week to help with all the little things that needed help. We both took about two weeks off of work, and spent a lot of time hanging out with our new addition and totally falling in love with him. [...]

Blog revival and baby announcement


I can't believe it has been two years since I posted on this blog.

I used to post almost every week!!

I'm not sure what happened, or if I'll be able to start posting regularly again. But something Big happened, and it brought me back here because I wanted to share about it.

We had another baby!!

After a lot of debating we finally decided to procreate again. We are getting old and it was now or never. Also baby #1 is growing up (she's in first grade now) and I wasn't ready to move past all the cute babyness she brought into our lives.

But boy was it a tough decision. Our jobs are more demanding than ever. Our first kid keeps our schedule full and continually challenges our parenting skills in new ways. And I still have dystonia - even though it is well controlled with botox, there was no telling how my symptoms would be during my pregnancy or after, and it was a big decision whether i wanted to continue my regular treatments despite the unknown risk (i did, but this is for another post).

This new baby's name is Landon. He is two months old tomorrow. He is very cute and very sweet. He is identical in looks to his sister, opposite in personality, and just as happy and healthy. We consider ourselves very lucky.

As with Layla, I'd like to use this blog to commemorate some of his milestones as a sort of journal for myself, to use for a baby book I'd like to make for him - but I'm already falling behind. Well, better something than nothing!! Here goes...

In case you're wondering what the KU Jayhawk really is...


The KU Jayhawk, famous in these parts...

Here is a complete description of how it was born, brought to you by the wall of the coffee shop on Mass St and 7th...

And from the wall of the KU Card Center at the Union, if you ever wondered what a "ElsaJay" (from Frozen) might look like...

And from the wondrous inter web, a "SuperJay" (my favorite)...

Lawrence restaurant - Genovese


The Studly Hubby and I are on a mission to find our new favorite restaurants in Lawrence. We've already discovered a few gems (Wheatfields, Little Saigon and Wa Sushi) and a few clunkers (Marisco's). Then there are the old standbys; Chipotle, Famous Dave's and Jimmy John's, that are somehow more exciting in a new city.

Today we got out of the house too late to catch breakfast at Wheatfields and it's never a good time to hit the other famous breakfast place downtown, the Roost (1-hr waits are unbearable with a 4-yr old). So we walked down the street to Genovese, an italian place that just started serving breakfast and wasn't the least bit crowded.

One thing I love about Lawrence is that most of the restaurants downtown have an old-timey feel to them that makes them really charming, because most of the buildings they are in are the original or near-original from the 1800s. The history nerd in me soars to be in places with such rich history.

A table at Genovese, with the 1800s stone wall in the background

We loved the food (mostly) and will go back. Although we've definitely adjusted to midwest prices, as at $10 per meal we considered it expensive.

Happy and full!
Me thinking: hmmmmm.... I should really blog about this place

Lawrence street art


Is street art becoming more hip, or did we just move to a place where it's more hip? Or did we never go out before now?

We were out on the town this weekend and saw TWO incidents of street art. First, a snowman that looked like a sculpture but was actually someone wearing a costume. After an audience had gathered to look closer, the snowman would move suddenly and make everyone scream.

Second, at the library we saw a toy soldier. The guy was standing so still I thought it was really a statue, even after already being tricked by the snowman. Then he moved like a robot and beckoned to us to come closer. Layla shrieked and ran away. I snapped a photo. Then I ran away too. I think he was trying not to laugh (he did a good job!). Then he got a new customer and I watched it all happen again.

Is bad posture neurological?


I have had bad 'slouchy' posture all my life. I spent most of my life feeling bad about it on the assumption that I could actually fix it if I tried harder. But I tried pretty hard, and it never went away.

Then in my 30s I was diagnosed with cervical dystonia. It's a neurological condition that causes, at the very least, bad posture. In addition to the trauma of having a movement disorder and all that comes with it, this really rocked my whole idea of bad posture and where it comes from. In the early days, I thought the bad posture might have caused the dystonia. After reading up on it and finding out about the mutations that lead to dystonia, and that many are in neurotransmitter synthesis pathways (which have nothing to do with posture), I slowly came to realize that if anything, it was the other way around - the dystonia caused the bad posture. Have I always had dystonia, but in a milder form? I guess I'll never know, but the thought really made me look at my life through a different lens.

Dystonia is thought to affect 3-5x as many people as have been diagnosed - this means a LOT of people are walking around with dystonia that don't know it. And if a mild case just causes bad posture (or other problems like scoliosis, headaches, etc), then who knows how many more people might have dystonia-related conditions that don't have any idea what dystonia even is.

This really challenges the prevailing view that bad posture is inherently preventable. If the source is neurological, no amount of exercise or discipline will correct the problem. You can stretch and strengthen and stick a rod down your shirt and everything else but the only thing that is going to help you is Botox because that specifically relaxes those muscles that are misfiring because of faulty wiring in your brain.

Doesn't this change your perspective a little?

So I googled 'bad posture' and found this - anyone know what movie it's from?

Green tomatoes at their finest!


This past weekend the temperatures were below freezing and with almost no snow on the ground and nothing in particular keeping us busy, we did some baking. Or rather, the Studly Hubby did the baking, while Layla and I cheered him on. He made chili (with cornbread), and a special new apple crisp with GREEN TOMATOES. I was a little uncertain when he brought home the recipe (they were giving it away at the co-op with samples of some they had made, and a story about a local farmer whose tomatoes all got picked early because of the frost).

The apple crisp inspired me to post on the J&D Recipe Blog again, after ~8 yrs. It was that good! Although, I didn't post the actual recipe as it's really long and came from a recipe book you can buy for $4 on Amazon.



Usually, Christmas totally sneaks up on me. Thanksgiving will come and go and then WHAM! I barely have time to get the tree up before Christmas is here. This year, as soon as Halloween was over, we were totally focused on Christmas. Maybe it's because we have a 4-yr old in the house. Maybe it's because the cold weather hit suddenly this year, or maybe it's just one of those things.

Before we even got to Thanksgiving, I'm finding myself thinking of where we're going to put the tree, what presents to give, what holiday shows and movies we can go to, and what to put in our annual newsletter. Our 4-yr old has been writing and re-writing her Christmas list and has it ready to go. For those of you who are interested, our family's Christmas lists are in the "Christmas" document you can access on the right side of the website.

Between the snow sprinkle yesterday and another one overnight we had enough to go out and play for a bit this morning. In order to gather enough snow to make snowballs (at Layla's request) we had to shovel the ENTIRE driveway. After a good snowball fight and some general running around in the snow, we came in and had some really excellent hot chocolate from our favorite neighborhood chocolate factory in Seattle, Theo Chocolate.

Derek shows Layla how to make a snowball from their little pile of snow gathered from shoveling the entire driveway

My favorite kind of hot chocolate - from Theo Chocolate with cinnamon and cayenne!! So yummy.

SNOOOOOOOWWWW!!! (for 10 minutes)


We all woke up SUPER excited this morning, beyond our usual 'yay, it's Saturday!' excitement - because we were supposed to get our FIRST SNOW OF THE SEASON!!

The headline in the local paper read

"Lawrence braces for snow"

(although if you read the article you would see that we were only expecting 2-4")

The snow was supposed to start at 9 am. We rushed out to the grocery store to stock up, thinking we might be home all weekend. We got home around 9:30 just as the first flakes began to fall. We jumped around excitedly as more flakes fell. We made plans and checked our snow gear and had a snack.

And then the snow turned into sleet, then rain.

And then it stopped.

All we got was a dusting! We were so sad :(

Oh well, we're bound to get some snow sooner or later.

The gazebo in the park in downtown Lawrence on a snow-filled winter day 

Dystonia conference


Two weeks ago I went to a conference on cervical dystonia (hosted by the STDystonia group). My mom was my main motivator and being at the end of my first round of Botox I would not have had the guts to go without her. In fact, about a week before we went I was feeling so awful I called her to ask if we could bail and she talked me out of it. I'm so glad because I had such a good time, both hanging out with my mom (more on that later) and at the conference itself.My lovely mom, who was my chaperone at the dystonia conferenceLuckily, just two days before leaving I saw my new movement disorder specialist who gave me the prescription for my now-favorite med, klonopin, and I was feeling better already by the time we got on the plane - and increasingly improved throughout the conference. Although the klonopin much improved the super-painful muscle tension associated with dystonia, and eased the neck spasms quite a bit, I was still pretty symptomatic while I was at the conference with my head constantly leaning to one side or sometimes jerking (this happens especially when I talk). This forced me to interact with a  lot of people despite my obvious symptoms. With each interaction I got a little more brave (it helped that all of the people there either had the same problem or were a close relative or spouse of someone with the problem, so nobody reacted at all to it). In fact, in my bravest moment I even took the mic during the open discussion and made a few points to the whole group of 200+ people  - neck spasms and all. I learned a lot about dystonia, how to treat it to ease the symptoms, and how to deal with whatever symptoms remain after treatment. I met a LOT of really nice and caring people, both newly diagnosed and 'old hats' that were making a big effort to connect with people like me. It was a really informative and supportive experience.But the real step forward came with my own accomplishments (and it helped that my mom was there to point them out to me). Even though the plane ride hurt like hell and my head was tilting weirdly as I walked through the airport and checked into the hotel and I could barely sit through all the talks, I survived. And it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought - I found ways to get through it and still get a lot out of it. I met people who were worse off and also getting through it and I realized even though I couldn't control where my head was all the time I could control a lot of other stuff that made it possible to travel and do all the things I did while I was there.On the last day, my mom and I went into downtown Charleston SC (where the conference was held) to see the market and have a nice dinner together. We found the most amazing restaurant on the water and got wine and dessert and commended each other on how great we were both doing. It was one of those amazing moments you remember forever and I am so grateful to my mom for talking me into going (several times).[...]

Painting the office


The last two weekends we did our first home project: we painted our office!!! It's a tiny room so was probably one of the easiest to paint (although there are nice cupboards and a window so we had to do a lot of taping for such a tiny room).

First we picked the color:

Then we bought a full can of paint (and the other stuff you need), donned 'paint clothes' and went crazy.

Layla actually ended up being a HUGE helper - we were really surprised that she could be so careful (sometimes more so than us!!). We all had to keep a close eye on each other, it's easy to drip!

After only an afternoon, we had finished the first coat and this morning in about an hour we touched it up with a quick second coat. And we are done (sorry I couldn't really get a good picture of the whole room - it is very small)!!

This was not only satisfying because it was our first home project (and it went well!) but also because  it was another milestone in my comeback after being stricken by dystonia - prior to my new meds and new botox this kind of project would have been WAAAY out of reach.

Maple Leaf Festival


Today we went to the Maple Leaf Festival to watch the parade and see all the craft vendors. It was wonderful weather and so much fun to get out and enjoy it. Even though I am only 1 week into my second Botox treatment my neck held up really well and I made it through the whole event and a bunch of other family activities before and after. But I did lean my head on my husband a few times for rest and one of these times our friend snapped this quick picture (thinking I was being affectionately cute). Here is an example of where I am learning how to hide my condition - although it could easily be hidden because it is not freaking me out as much anymore but mostly because the symptoms are much controlled by the so-wonderful Botox and klonopin (mostly Botox).The highlight of the festival was a house completely decked out for Halloween. They had a very real-looking guillotine on the curb (which had a line of people waiting to take selfies with it), and a yard full of super-spooky halloween decorations - heads hanging from a clothesline, skeletons climbing up the house, a shivering mummy, a jumping spider, corpses everywhere in all kinds of situations and all kinds of other stuff. There was a huge crowd of people just standing at the fence looking at all of it.In both pictures you can see a little red clown wandering around. The clown was hanging around looking spooky but also handed out candy every once in a while. Layla was lucky enough to get a sucker. Then she watched closely when the clown eventually disappeared back into the house. And later, when we were buying a craft I heard her tell someone, "I got this sucker from the spooky clown at the Halloween House. Then he went inside to watch TV and have some lunch." A closer shot of some of the spookiness of the Halloween House:[...]

Cervical Dystonia - my story


In February 2014, my neck started twitching a little bit. I felt it just before I went to bed, some nights worse than others. It lasted about 3 weeks. Then on a road trip to visit family in Iowa, it started twitching during the day and ached a little on the trip. I started complaining about it, took some pain meds and found myself resting my head on my hand as much as I could. The day after we returned from our trip, I found I suddenly could not hold my head straight forward at all. I took the day off work, went in to the chiropractor (who was baffled, but still assured me it was just a pulled muscle), then saw a massage therapist (who was also baffled, but agreed with the chiropractor that it must be a pulled muscle), and feeling no better the next day, I returned to work and just held my head in my hands the whole day. It was tiring, to say the least. As the week went on, and turned into the next week and the next, I slowed down more and more and began to cancel things and cut back. Also I was finding that my neck was starting to spasm and jerk and my hands couldn't even hold my head straight (it would spasm right out of my grasp!). I eventually sprained my wrist, scraped up my elbows bracing them on my desk, and pinched a nerve in my back. I saw my general doctor, who was also baffled and prescribed a high dose of valium, to take daily until the 'problem' resolved. This helped with the pinched nerve, but made me feel awful. I started seeing a physical therapist, another massage therapist, and an osteopath who did craniosacral therapy. They were all baffled, and also desperate to try to help. In their desperate 'helping,' they mostly made it worse, with the exception of the craniosacral therapy (this is a very gentle approach to body work), which really helped - it helped with the pinched nerve and provided a little relief so that I could keep working a little bit, although it was only a bare minimum. Also one of the massage therapists, in a brilliant moment of guessing at what might help, showed me how by sitting still and focusing my attention AWAY from the muscles that I was fighting, I could actually control it just a tiny bit - this was the beginning of learning how to live with this although I didn't realize it yet.I finally had enough with my chiropractor, who after 4 weeks was still singing the same song about it being a pulled muscle. At home we were having our deck stained, and the person we hired to do it took one look at me and asked if he could pray for me - then he got down on his knees right there and prayed. I must have looked pretty bad. I asked him if he knew of a good chiropractor and he gave me a detailed review of all of the ones in town, with his favorite just down the street. I went straight over to her and that's when I finally got a diagnosis.The new chiropractor told me, as gently as she could, that there was a neurological disorder called cervical dystonia that caused all the symptoms that I had and that I should see a neurologist as soon as possible to check if this was what I had. I was still thinking it all stemmed from a pulled muscle or pinched nerve somewhere, and was devastated to hear there was this other, much more horrible sounding thing that it could be (and when I looked it up, it matched all my symptoms... oh what an awful night of frenzied internet-searching that was). I went to the neurologist, who agreed with the chiropractor that it might be a dystonia, but told me not to lose hope - dystonias are treatable with Botox (usually), and besides, we still weren't sure that it wasn't a pinched nerve or pulled muscle. He wanted me to wait another month, get an MRI, and see what happened with my symptom[...]

Cervical Dystonia


In March, I started having symptoms of what turned out to be a neurological movement disorder called cervical dystonia.What is cervical dystonia? (I wondered this too)Dystonias are involuntary muscle spasms. Your brain sends the wrong message to a muscle telling it to contract when you don't really want it to. These can occur in all kinds of different ways. For example writer's cramp, golfer's 'yips' and dysphonia (muscle spasms of the vocal chords) are all dystonias. Eye twitches are also dystonias. You can have a generalized dystonia, where spasms happen all over the body, or a focal dystonia that only occurs in one area (like eye twitch). The most common type of dystonia is of the neck (called cervical dystonia). This is the type that I have.Scientists really don't understand what causes dystonia. There is a type of generalized dystonia that children get that has been studied better than most, and all they really know about that one is the gene that is involved. In other types of dystonias, it seems there is a problem with neurotransmitters that are important for motor control (e.g. dopamine). But, many different genetic mutations can lead to dystonia and only about 25% of these are even known - so there is still a lot that we don't know. What does seem clear is that in people with dystonia, there is a disconnection between the brain and the nerves in the muscles that the brain is trying to control. What is really weird about dystonia is that in some patients the symptoms can go away (about 10-20%), and the patient can go into remission - but most patients that go into remission will eventually 'relapse' and have the dystonia reoccur (and not always in the same place or same way). This suggests that sometimes the brain or body can find a way around the issue that causes the dystonia, at least temporarily. Dystonias are not typically progressive (although they have been known to 'spread' from one site to another in some patients) and have no effect on cognitive function or lifespan.Even though it is the third most common movement disorder (behind Parkinson's and essential tremor), almost no one has heard of dystonia. This is too bad because that means it often gets misdiagnosed, and misdiagnosing a dystonia can lead to a LOT of unnecessary emotional and physical trauma. People have been told they're crazy or lazy, they have had surgery that actually made the problems worse, they have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars seeking out medical help from the wrong specialists (yes, even doctors often don't recognize dystonias!), and on and on. The average person with dystonia goes to 7 doctors which takes over a year before they get the correct diagnosis. I had to go to only 4, and was diagnosed in about 2 months.Like many chronic illnesses, dystonias can manifest in as many ways as people that have them. Cervical dystonia is no exception. Cervical dystonia is when muscles in your neck contract and your head is pulled to one side, up or down, or some combination of these. Every person is different in the direction their head is turned and how their symptoms appear. It can be a constant pull or a pulling-jerk or happen with or without a tremor. Some people have just a tremor and no pull. It can also be a VERY obvious deviation of the head (or tremor, or both) or it can be totally hidden (just something the patient feels). It can be off and on, or constant. Mine is a constant pull with some jerking (no tremor), with a deviation of the head that is 10 degree tilted to the left (ear to shoulder), 10 degree turned to the right and a moderate 'retrocollis' (looking up). In the next post I'll tell the story of how my sympto[...]

Almost a year in Kansas


As we approach our 1-yr anniversary of moving to Kansas, it still seems so strange to be in here instead of Seattle. Maybe that's partly because we still haven't hung pictures or bought furniture (there's a reason for that, which I'll post about next), but mostly it's because it was such a big change. Every season is so different, every routine still so new, having family nearby offers so many unexpected opportunities (which has been so great!), we're still in the 'new-friend' process and getting used to our new jobs, and finding new things we like in the new city we live. It's been mostly fun and a good experience, we have been reminded of how much we love the midwest, the weather, the people, the culture, etc. But we still often talk about how much we miss Seattle!!

To help ease the transition, we bought cookbooks for two of our favorite places in Seattle, Trophy Cupcakes and Molly Moon's Ice Cream (you can get both on Amazon). Delicious!

Our arrival


We are now in Kansas!! I am now at my new job!!! Layla is in daycare!!! And the Studly Hubby is... looking for a job. But, he will find one, because he is pretty studly (he has already turned down one offer).

My report, so far:

1. Hot diggidy, it is friggin' COLD back here in the midwest
2. I am so BUSY!!!
3. Montessori (Layla's new school) seems to be a good thing, we think.
4. How did I get so BUSY??
5. It is soooooo nice that Derek did not have to start a new job right away
6. Our new house is still pretty empty - we have had no time to buy furniture
7. Dang, it is COLD!
8. It is fancy to be a professor. I actually wore my suit the other day, just as a regular thing (gave a talk for another department in Kansas City). I have an OFFICE, and bought a NEW COMPUTER and HIRED SOMEONE. Wow.
9. It was kind of extra cold that day I wore my suit.
10. Making lists is much quicker than writing whole paragraphs.

The pros and cons of Midwestern life


After being in Seattle for seven years, the Studly Hubby and I had really acclimated to the Pacific Northwest lifestyle. Moving back to the Midwest has provided a little culture shock - even though it's all still strangely familiar. I've realized I have missed a lot and also will miss a lot now that I'm back.

What I love about the midwest:

1. It smells good here. Did you ever notice this? It smells crisp, maybe it's the dry air?
2. Everyone is soooooo, so, so nice. And not sort of nice, or nice for the first five minutes you meet them, but sincerely nice. This trait in me gave me away as a midwesterner in Seattle, and I really missed it in my interactions with people around me.
3. Prime time starts at 7. I can't stay up past 9, so this is perfect for me.
4. It is CHEAP here. Seriously, gas is $2.95!! What in the heck?
5. The FOOD - like pizza, awesome ice cream, Mexican, cheap Chinese... it is everywhere here, and nowhere over there.
6. Small town/big city. Small midwestern towns (e.g. Iowa City, Madison, Champaigne-Urbana, Lawrence) are famous for being metropolitan, with amazing libraries, restaurants, a progressive culture (our recycling gets picked up more HERE than in Seattle!!!), and advanced art scene. Maybe it's the University influence? Or maybe it's the midwest!!

What I miss about the Pacific Northwest:

1. The FOOD - it took me a while to figure out what food is good in the PNW, but I finally did - it's 'PNW' food: fish, organically grown garden veggies and fruits, with good wine. SO YUM.
2. Prime time starts at 8. Now that I have a kid, and she goes to bed right at 8, it's actually kind of nice - and I never watch much anyway so who cares that I have to go to bed by 9.
3. Mass transit. The Seattle bus system alone has hundreds of routes, and there is also a lightrail, a trolley, a train, and another bus system that the county runs. Our tiny midwest town has one bus, 9 routes, and no other options. It sucks!
4. Water and mountains and old forests EVERYWHERE... ooooohhh myyyyy (as George Takai would say). Every view is amazing.
5. Fresh berries, awesome fruit, green veggies, blooming flowers, all over the city, all year round.

Moving to Kansas, Part II: GET SET! (with a brief story about the Crazy Lady in Fremont)


The movers came on Halloween, and the Studly Hubby helped them pack while Layla and I had our last day at daycare and work, respectively. The next day, Layla and I boogeyed down while the Studly Hubby and the movers finished packing and loaded up the van.The 'mancave' full of boxes - this is where we stored the already-packed boxes before the movers cameA brief story about the Crazy Lady in FremontThe day that the Studly Hubby packed and moved all our stuff, Layla and I were trying to have some fun in the next neighborhood over (Fremont) where we were staying with some good friends. We went with them to a coffee shop a few blocks away, and then they took a bus to a playdate while we walked back together to get our car and go on our own way. Unfortunately, Layla (understandably) had said good-bye to too many friends at that point and even though that particular friend was meeting up with us again later that evening, she still unraveled into a great big epic tantrum.       Some of you already know that when Layla throws a fit, it's quite the event, so you might not be surprised to hear that we attracted some attention. Several folks in our path stopped to lend their sympathy, and one lady in particular stopped to try to 'help.' After a few minutes I realized her version of helping (by trying to engage with our totally unresponsive fit-thrower) wasn't very helpful, and we tried to move on. At that point the lady grabbed Layla to give her a stern talking-to, and that's when I realized the lady must be a bit crazy and we should focus quite hard on moving on - which required picking Layla up and carrying her down the street, even though she was screaming, kicking, scratching, and carrying on. The lady followed us, yelling weird stuff at us (again, trying to be 'helpful' but really not). I stopped at least 3 times to tell her to lay off, more and more aggressively, until somehow I found our friend's house and went inside. The lady wandered away before the Studly Hubby could get there. He pointed out we probably could have called 911 and reported an assault but I wasn't sure if it was that big of a threat since the lady was probably in her 70s. Afterwards, Layla finally understood what had happened and perhaps it was a good lesson to her to pay more attention to her mom than to her own fit-throwing when there's a danger alert (ever since, we have been working on a family protocol to follow when Mom or Dad says 'danger'). Anyways, I was a bit shaken by it all and definitely sore the next day.Back to the Kansas move:On Saturday, I took care of Layla again while the Studly Hubby and a friend cleaned up the house, repaired a few problems, shampooed the rugs, disposed of all our garbage (how do you generate SO MUCH garbage when you move???), and did a walk-through with the landlord. It was a very long day. In the process, we managed to spill a couple liters of laundry detergent in our friend's car (sorry about that!), trash their house with all our garbage, overflow their washer with said laundry detergent (sorry about that too!) and then we left town (see Hawaii post, below).[...]

Moving to Kansas, Part I: GETTING READY


I posted earlier about our trip to Kansas to buy a house, followed by a flurry of other trips and business. When that was all over, and we landed back in Seattle, we realized something: it's time to GET READY.

We had a bunch of logistical stuff to do, like find and hire a moving company, decide to drive or fly and then arrange it, close on the house (which we did in Seattle), etc., etc. Then, we both had a bunch of work-related stuff to do - for me, that was organizing all my strains and stocks and files to be shipped to Kansas, transferring my grants and writing a few new ones and hiring a post-doc, not to mention all the normal stuff I had to do related to the job I still had in Seattle.

But what was really, really tough was saying goodbye to all our friends.

It started with a surprise visit from our most favorite neighbor L who gave us the sweetest note and bottle of wine. The note made me cry. Then our beloved baby group threw us a totally unexpected SURPRISE party - we unknowingly walked in on the whole group wearing matching t-shirts and bearing gifts and giving out hugs and passing around margaritas. It was possibly the first time we had ever ALL been together without kids. I cried and cried and cried. Then we had goodbye parties with other friends, each of our work groups, another neighbor party, more baby group parties, even people we didn't even know at the daycare were inviting us over. It was incredible. And a very welcome distraction from the stress of moving. Although, a little bit busy. In the end it got too busy and we had to cancel on one of the things we had planned. But we had a nice good-bye with most everybody and hopefully soaked up enough social interactions to last us until we could make some new friends in Kansas.

Our baby group surprise party - all 16 of us!
Layla's last day of daycare and my last day of work was Halloween. That was also the day the movers came to take our stuff. It was perfect timing - although Layla knew what was happening, she was too excited about Halloween to get down about it (or maybe, she's just happy like that - she's been a good sport overall). She cheerfully said good-bye to everyone at school, had a blast trick-or-treating in her WordGirl (superhero) outfit, and then we went to a friend's to spend a few days until we flew out to Hawaii.

Hawaii trip!!


While our stuff was being transported from Seattle to Kansas, we went to Hawaii!!We decided to go to Oahu, and stayed in a little 1-bdr cottage in a beach town called Kailua (about 30 min from Honolulu). We rented the cottage from, and had a great experience with them.Our house in Kailua, the "Lilikoi Cottage"The cottage was 2 blocks from the Kailua beach and about a mile from the Lanikai beach, one of the best beaches in the world.Kailua beachLanikai beach, right next to Kailua beachWe were stressed from just having moved out of our house of four years and bidding tearful good-byes to all of our great friends in Seattle. It was a long flight with our ornery kid. It was the perfect place to land.The first morning (Monday), we were all up at 4 am (only bad part about Hawaii - jetlag is a beast!). When the sun rose at 6 am we piled into the car and went to the beach. We were so excited we jumped in with our clothes on!Kailua beach at sunriseLayla and I, buried in sandThe next day, we went to Waikiki in Honolulu to ride on the submarine. It was pretty fun (we saw a sunken boat, and lots and lots of fish). It was slightly long and boring for a 3-yr old, and Layla had a hard time coping with being stuck there. But she was good enough that we could really enjoy it - I wouldn't have taken her any younger though.We spent the rest of the trip visiting other beaches in Hawaii, including the North Shore (and delicious shaved ice at Matsumoto's) and Haunauma Bay (the Studly Hubby and I snorkeled while Layla watched or played in the sand, we all really enjoyed it there). We also visited the Farmer's Market in Kailua where we bought coconut and pineapple, and had the most delicious Lilikoi ice cream we have ever had (Lilikoi is the Hawaiian word for passionfruit).Layla standing near the largest avacado I have ever seen, from KauaiLayla having some of the most delicious Lilikoi ice creamLayla and I at Lanikai beachI was sad to leave on Thursday. We had a loooooong flight back to Kansas with an overnight in LA, and although the weather was nice in Kansas it was not like Hawaii. I hope we can go back someday.[...]

Our fabulous new house in Kansas


We bought a house!!

It's a lovely 2-story, recently built (2006) suburban home on a cul-de-sack only blocks from a great elementary (and close to our new daycare!) and near a great ~5K 'urban trail' and bike route. We are about 5 miles from campus (only about 15 minute drive) and less than a mile from Hy-Vee (Hy-Vee! I have so missed you!). We have four bedrooms, and a fully finished basement and HUGE yard (seriously, you can hardly see the fence - I have no idea how we're going to mow it). It is a little bit bigger than our current 2-bdr, 800 sq-ft craftsman rental in Seattle.

My husband is staying on with his current employer and working remotely, so he will be claiming some space for a 'home office.' We have no idea what to do with the rest of it. Probably, we'll be so overwhelmed by all the extra space we'll all end up together in the smallest bedroom with everything else we own taking up about half of the next-smallest bedroom. Hopefully, we can decide on some furniture to buy or fill up the space with bouncy balls or something.

We also plan to make or buy a Little Free Library to put in the front yard. Won't that look lovely?

Fall is here!!


I saw a book on blogging at the library today and remembered my blog - boy it's been a while!!

After a totally fabulous summer, we were almost relieved that fall was here. Almost.

The end of summer was particularly busy: we went to Kansas to get ready for our upcoming move (and buy a house!). The next weekend, we went on a group camping trip by Mount Rainier, which was beautiful and very, very fun. I didn't quite make it through the weekend without showering but the Studly Hubby did (and was not very studly at the end). The weekend after that we went back to our favorite vacation destination, Lake Chelan, for a too-short weekend of awesomeness. We were only there two nights but actually left earlier than planned because we were all so totally worn out. In between all that BOTH grandmas made trips out to visit.

Fall has brought some rest, earlier bedtimes for all of us, a cleaner house (we are really clearing out now - and even packing!), and now we are in the final stretch - less than a month left - getting extra busy getting in final visits with all our great friends, planning the move, booking a fabulous trip to Hawaii during the week we'll be homeless (yay!!) and even throwing a few parties. Fortunately we've only been mildly sick while everyone around us is flattened by some horrible Seattle Daycare Germ and the weather has continued to work in our favor - beautiful long enough for a garage sale and some park time but rainy when we need to get serious and do some packing and cleaning.

And through it all we are doing as much visiting as we can with all our great Seattle friends and all the fun stuff we enjoy before we leave. We are sure going to miss Seattle!

Photo Books


One of my Summer Goals is to make another awesome photo book for Layla. For my last one I used Creative Memories software, which was totally rad. But, the company is going bankrupt so I'm looking for a new one. I just found this GREAT site that compares different companies and tracks printing deals and even has a bunch of tutorials and tips. On there I found out there are like 800 different companies that do this and probably a million hard-core digital scrapbooking fans (some that use a different company for every book depending on which one has the deal). I think if you aren't trying to be complicated you can put together a book in less than 2 hours but I can't imagine being that fast, like ever (it took me over a month to put together my last one, and I was working really hard).

After doing some online research, I went with Blurb, which isn't quite as cool as Creative Memories but about half the price.

Also while we're talking about photos check out these amazing photo cubes from Shutterfly:

Update: I found a more professional review of digital scrapbooking companies here.