Sunday, September 30, 2012


It's been an overwhelming past couple of weeks.
Not because anything has necessarily gone wrong, but perhaps because things haven't gone the way I expected.

I should start over.

When I found out was pregnant (after five rounds of IVF), I was ecstatic and grateful and even a bit incredulous. A few days later when we found out that there were TWO embryos in there, those feelings intensified. Though I knew that a multiples pregnancy was considered higher risk, I imagined that we would have a similar pregnancy and birth experience to the one we had with Mayumi. With her I had never physically felt better in my life (for the most part) and had a beautiful, natural birth (albeit challenging and definitely the hardest thing I've ever done up 'til that point) with midwives at the birth center. This time I still wanted the midwife and I even looked into home birth - wouldn't it be wonderful to have my five year-old daughter involved?

But that was not to be... almost everyone we spoke to refused us because twins are considered too high risk. The birth center where I delivered Mayumi, as well as other midwife practices, turned us away. Which made PapaQ and I think that perhaps there was something to this high-risk business and made us a bit hesitant to work with the two midwives we found who were willing to work with us. So we headed to one of the local hospitals where we'd heard there were some good OBs who supported natural, vaginal childbirth.

And then almost halfway through the pregnancy I started bleeding. While out of town. At the emergency room I was diagnosed with placenta previa. I was told to be on pelvic rest and modified bedrest for a little while. Then a few days later I had another scary episode of bleeding. Was it just from travel? I was relieved to get home and see my regular doctors and hear that they weren't really worried about it; in other cases like mine the placenta usually moves as the uterus expands and vaginal birth is still possible.

But as the weeks went on that stubborn placenta just kept it's place there by my cervix. And a few weeks ago they discovered that these big ol' blood vessels were implanting themselves right down there by the cervix as well. They said it was rare - I was only their third patient with a situation like this. It meant automatic C-section AND having an integrated radiologist in the OR to insert catheters into my arteries as a precaution against massive hemorrhaging and the need for a hysterectomy.

Oh my, that all sounded quite frightening and quite the opposite of what I had anticipated. Adding onto that my increased discomfort and pain from carrying two babies, along with regular contractions (yet I'm not in pre-term labor, thankfully) has resulted in the need of more bed rest (these boys are HEAVY!). Difficulty sleeping, nausea, loss of appetite, cramping, heart burn...  it turns out that this pregnancy has been a bit more unpleasant and complicated than my first. I am so grateful to be pregnant with twins, but at the same time I have found myself frustrated by all the limitations and fear it has caused. I never imagined that I would have a C-section. I never imagined I would have to give up yoga and walking and acting and being normal.

What a pity party I find myself having sometimes.

For the most part I'm simply trying to focus on staying healthy and positive for four more weeks (FOUR MORE WEEKS! That seems both so near and an eternity away). Regular acupuncture appointments, prayer and meditation, and the help and support of PapaQ and my friends have kept me sane. Sometimes I still find myself in tears, feeling sorry for myself, but overall I'm really lucky, aren't I? The babies have been growing well and are healthy. We know what the risks are and though the conditions aren't ideal we'll be able to have them safely. Then I'll have my boys with me and out family will have grown from three to five! That is amazing! So yes, things are a bit more complicated and unexpected, but life is like that sometimes. You know... complicated.

Friday, September 28, 2012

{this moment}

A Friday ritual (inspired by Soulemama). 
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

yarn along: dreaming up new projects

Joining Ginny over at Small Things for the regular Wednesday Yarn Along!
Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? ~ Ginny Sheller from Small Things

Another sweater waiting in the wings for Miss Mayumi: Cotton & Cloud cable yoke jacket. Mayumi and I visited the newly opened Knitting Loft here on Capitol Hill to choose some yarn. She selected this fun coral color (Ella Rae Classic Heathers 100% wool). Maybe I can get this one done in time for a Christmas gift?

As for reading, on Saturday night I picked up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows and discovered it was one of those wonderful books that you just don't want to put down. I finished it the following night when I really should have been trying to sleep, but it was delightfully worth waking up bleary eyed. Granted, I have a whole lot of extra hormones coursing through my veins at present, but I found myself sobbing at different points in the story, particularly around any passage having to do with children (like parents sending their children away for years to avoid the German occupation). A good friend had recommended it to me months (years?) ago and I'm sorry it took me so long to get to it. It was one of those novels that makes you so incredibly grateful for good literature, good friends, and good life in general. I actually feel like a better person for having read it. 

Ah, that is my glowing review. I am supremely happy at the moment - happy with the weather, the progress of my days, the little projects that I've been working on, the indulgence of finishing a book in two nights, a new project getting started on the needles... oh dear, isn't this an annoying post? Will it make me any more redeemable to admit that a few days ago I was so overwhelmed with everything in my life that (again) everything was making me cry? It had been an "Oh woe is me" sort of weekend and I think I am just relieved that is over and I can go back to sunshine, lollipops and rainbows for now. Much better.

Monday, September 24, 2012


I wish I could capture the crisp air and let it blow around you as you read this post. Autumn is here at last and we have been enjoying the cool nights that allow us to cuddle under a blanket, and the refreshing morning breeze that blows in through open windows (no need for AC 24/7!). Our morning following the autumn equinox was slow and relaxing. We're hoping for more of these in the following months. The tea kettle is back on the stove, hot oatmeal is appetizing once again, and our eyes are looking for the tell-tale signs of foliage changing to those pretty rusty colors. 

Beyond weather, we have been preparing for other changes around here. Little boy clothes are accumulating in a dresser drawer. Two new carseats, still in their boxes, are taking up storage space in the laundry room. Furniture is moved around, trying to find the best configuration for playing, sleeping, nursing... Discussion is centered around how we can help our beloved little girl (though oh my she is growing so quickly!) make the transition from only child to big sister. We circle dates on the calendar, trying to time paternity leave dates with dates when grandmothers and aunties and friends will come down to lend a hand, all while trying to maintain the sanctity of the little family unit we are so protective of.

Many changes coming soon. But it is the right time.

Hope you, too, have been enjoying the transition of the seasons.

Friday, September 21, 2012

{This Moment}

{this moment} 
A Friday ritual (inspired by Soulemama). 
A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

yarn along: almost done!

Joining Ginny over at Small Things for the regular Wednesday Yarn Along!
Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. 
Ginny Sheller from Small Things

I'm pushing to finish this cute little sweater this week so I can have it ready for Mayumi's birthday in October, and also so I can start on some other projects. Like all the other woolly lovers out there, the shift to more autumnal weather has me ready to cuddle up with hooks and needles and lots of lovely yarn. 

Fortunately I've been able to find some time for reading a few snippets here and there. Essays and short stories are great for this - and I've been turning to Wendell Berry recently. I love his writing and his practical, intellectual and soulful outlook on the world. I also love the name Wendell...

There is also a plethora of books I've been researching and referring to in our home learning endeavors. I especially love the interdisciplinary approach of using art as a lens through which to study math and science - we've been having fun with various projects from nature rubbings to creating patterns with geo blocks. 

I can hardly restrain myself from repeating that this glorious fall-like weather has set my heart soaring. Knitting and/or reading outside under a big shady tree with a gentle, cool breeze rustling around me has been a very happy part of the week. Hope you've been enjoying it too!

Monday, September 10, 2012

nature outing

As part of our weekly nature walk/outing we headed toward the Arboretum to feed the koi and search for signs of autumn. And sure enough, the weather is cooling and signs abound. I find myself letting out sighs of relief...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

stroller pining

Now that twins are coming I realize that some of the baby products we have may to give way for new ones that accommodate two babies instead of one. Particularly our stroller.
We made do with a Baby Trend jogger gotten almost brand new off of Craig's List for $50. I coveted the Phil & Ted double strollers that everyone else in the neighborhood seemed to own, but it didn't make sense to shell out $500+ for a a fancy double stroller when we only had one child.
But now that there will be two boys who will need to get around the city for a few years (and a five year old who will undoubtedly want a ride too) I've begun the double stroller research again.
And you know what I've discovered? I still want a fancy schmancy one.
But which one?
Not that I want what everyone else has, but around here on Capitol Hill I've been noticing the Baby Jogger City Select tandem stroller. And I like what I see.
The downside is that, like the Phil & Ted, it too has a fancy schmancy price tag. Sigh.
Of course I've been making a list of reasons why we need to spend so much on a good stroller:
*as city dwellers we rely on walking a LOT. On the sidewalks, the Metro, museums, zoo... a stroller is like a second vehicle, except much cheaper
*because of small city spaces (Metro elevators and the like) it is necessary to have a tandem stroller (versus a side-by-side) and there are fewer options in that category that are well-designed and well-made and affordable at the same time
*with a good, sturdy stroller we would rely less on our car, thus saving money and the planet at the same time!
* it has gotten incredible reviews
*you get what you pay for, right?

What do you think? Be honest. Am I crazy and/or greedy? Or is this really a good investment?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

the education plan

I started toying with the idea of "homeschooling" a few years ago when a good friend handed me a copy of John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing us Down and, indeed, creating an atmosphere of learning and exploration in our home as always been one of our priorities. But this is the first year I actually attempted to put together a plan. A real plan. You know, like a schedule. With a "curriculum". With just a few months until she turns five, I figured it was time to implement some kindergarten-type programming. And with the twins set to make their appearance in a month or two, I want to make sure I'm prepared now! So there has been a lot of time spent at the computer researching different methodologies (Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Montessori, Classical etc.) and subject programs and one thing I've learned is that I still have a LOT to learn. There are many books about home education on my to-read list and many people on my to-consult-with list. Overwhelming for sure, but quite exciting.

I tend to over-compensate in my planning - aiming to be more ambitious than may be practical (you should see our travel itineraries!). But I thought I would share some of the things I've put together here, in hopes that either:
1. someone out there with more knowledge and experience can provide some input/opinions/suggestions about some my approaches and choices and
2. perhaps it will be helpful or even inspirational to someone out there who is beginning on this journey, like me.

So here it is:

Home Learning Checklist
* Scripture & meditation
* Exercise
* Feed rabbit
* Letter writing
* Foreign Language activity
* Math worksheet
* Reading
* Music (piano/violin) practice
* Playtime

Weekly Checklist:
* Nature Walk
* Museum Visit
* Art Project
* Library Visit
* Tai Kwon Do class
* Ballet class
* Kind Act/ Service
* Book report

math games

Literature of choice



Flashcards, music, Hiragana practice, Picture Dictionary, DVD

letter writing (daily)
blogging & journaling
book reports (weekly)

Story of the World,Volume 1 with Activity Book

weekly nature walk 
occasional experiments and projects (1 per month)

piano & violin lessons

drawing class 
recommended list for grade 1 from Concordia University Chicago
Artist study and museum attendance (1 per month)

Physical Ed
weekly ballet class
weekly Home Do (tai kwon do)
daily outdoor play 

daily scripture study

When I look at it all, it can seem overwhelming, but I honestly think our daily and weekly schedule of activities is quite do-able. We been doing it for a few days now and find that we can generally complete our daily checklist in under an hour, not including exercise and playtime, which thankfully fills the majority of our day, along with cooking, crafting, gardening and the like. And Mayumi loves being able to check off the items on her list.

The list of resources are meant to be a guideline for me, not necessarily what we will cover entirely this year (but one can be hopeful, yes?). Many of the books we don't actually have on our possession just yet (we are still debating whether we need all those math programs right now and whether we even want to delve into Latin at all). But they are paths I want to research and possibly pursue. All the while keeping in mind that we may veer off course completely if Mayumi show an interest in something completely different. 

And there you have it. A plan. A structure, a framework, a bit of organization to our days. Phew!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Oishii: Japanese Potato Salad

Happy September everyone! When I realized that summer was almost over I had a reflex reaction of regret, then came to my senses and wanted to cheer. Hurray! The long, hot, unbearable summer is about to give way to fall showers, autumnal foliage, cooler weather and coziness. I, for one, am elated. 
So perhaps this post is a bit off-schedule; Japanese potato salad is a a staple in our home all summer long. But I have a feeling that we'll enjoy it a few times more as the seasons transition. After all, it stays quite warm round these parts until October, and frankly, this potato salad is good enough to eat all year long.

You may wonder what the difference is between western-style potato salad and Japanese potato salad and that is a valid question. In short, Japanese potato salad is a sort of summer-inspired mashed potato dish with just enough mayonnaise to make it interesting. PBS has a short article and recipe here. the Just Hungry blog offers another version here. But this is the way mom taught me:

Kumi's Japanese Potato Salad


  • 6-8 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (I've used all sorts of different potatoes, even mixed them and it always comes out good. So use whatever you have on hand or whatever your favorite is)
  • 3-4 boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled
  • 2 apples, cored, quartered and sliced (I like Pink Lady)
  • 1-2 Japanese cucumbers, thinly sliced (Persian cukes also work well - something without big seeds)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (Kewpie for the most authentic version, but any brand will do)
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Cook potatoes and carrots (and eggs if you haven't boiled them yet) in boiling water until soft, then drain. Remove carrots and slice into chunks. Mash the potatoes to desired consistency (soft but with a few chunks for texture). Gently fold in all other ingredients and season to taste.

I usually make ours vegetarian style, but I've had it before with chopped ham, which is also delicious.  It is a very forgiving dish and you can make it with fewer or more vegetable/fruit, according to your tastes. We like ours to be bursting with fruit and veggies... 

If you try it, let me know how it worked for you!