Blog Archive

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gchat Ridiculousness

If you know Eddie or John at all, then you can tell from this picture exactly what the topic of conversation was during tonight's video chat.

Heart Monitor

For at least the last year, I've noticed that my heart rhythm would be irregular at times.  Mostly it would occur as a series of fast, more intense beats when I laid down on my right side at night, right after getting into bed.  If I let it go on it's on for a bit, it'd end with a skipped beat and then a really intense beat.  Or, I figured out I could turn over onto my left side and disrupt the arrhythmia, making the beat go back to normal.

It didn't happen all the time and I know that some irregularities in heart beats are common and completely okay.  So I decided to wait to get it checked out.  But then it began happening more and more frequently, to the point that I could expect it to happen 2-3 times a week.  Knowing I'd probably have to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours and then get a referral back to my Sacramento cardiologist, I decided to wait until spring quarter was over.  Trying to squeeze in a doctor's appointment during my hectic teaching/parenting schedule would have been reason enough for my heart to flutter.  

So I made an appointment for my annual women's health check up and mentioned this pattern to the doctor.  She renewed my referral to Dr. Stark and put my description in to the system.  The very next day I got a call from someone at his office telling me I'd have to wear a heart monitor again--but for three freaking weeks!  The woman told me it'd be able to record automatically if my heart rate/rhythm went beyond some programmed baseline and that I could also hit the record button if I felt something happening that I wanted the cardiologist to analyze.  She explained that the monitor would automatically send the data to the office daily, or in real time via FAX if it were a "bad" event.

About a week later I get a call from an Indian man, whose accent was so thick I could only understand about 10% of what he said.  I determined he was calling from Life Watch, the monitor company, and wanted to confirm my shipping address.  He asked for my phone number and I gave him my cell--normally it doesn't matter and it isn't worth explaining to people that I don't have a home phone/land line.  He said, "Is this your home phone?" and unlike most times I confessed that it was actually only a cell phone.  He jabbered on about something I couldn't understand so I ended the call.  I phoned the cardiologist's office and asked why the outsourced guy needed to know if I had a land line.  It turns out my insurance company denied the automatic data transfer heart monitor (didn't tell me or the cardiologist's office, however) and reverted me to a substandard model that requires a land line for data transfer.  It's also less sensitive and doesn't record as much data.  (As it turns out, it didn't even automatically record/detect my concerning events at all.)
The monitor arrived in the mail.
The doggies were pretty interested in how it smelled.  I wonder whose house it was in before mine?
The monitor.  That giant record button was too easily pushed--many times I accidentally depressed it while leaning against the lab bench at school or the kitchen counter while doing dishes.
Then came the headache of getting a land line installed.  Our house was a rental house for it's first 42 years of life, during a time when cell phones were not the norm.  So there are like 15 phone wires in the back of our house, and three separate phone boxes (each with 2 lines in them).  It took AT&T several days to activate my service and the technician didn't label the active line as I had requested.  After too many frustrating phone calls to AT&T and them quoting me a minimum of $50/15 minutes to come out and help me figure out which line was live, I finally got a dial tone on a borrowed cordless phone.  And of course it was the ONLY line that doesn't actually have a wire that leads into the house.  So I had to set the cordless phone outside by the AC unit.  

And as my luck would have it, the cordless phone's 7 and 8 buttons only worked sometimes, so I couldn't use it anyway.  It would have been okay except the phone number for Life Watch was 1-800-700-3788.  
Ghetto phone set up. Dave brought a corded phone from his parents' house once I realized the cordless wouldn't work (I had planned on keeping it my bedroom which is just through the wall to the left). So every time I had to transfer data (every 1-2 days) I had to stand in the backyard or do it in my lab.
There were two electrodes--one near my left hip and one on the right breast.  Those electrode stickers make me break out and they fell off after only a day from all my sweating while biking. They were supposed to last 3 days so I nearly ran out by the end of my term.  I hated how wearing this monitor dictated what I could wear (no dresses, only things with a sturdy waistband on which to clip this ghetto device).
Some days I dug through the closet to find something that wasn't jeans or shorts. You can see Eddie pushing the record button on the monitor. Thanks buddy.
During the monitoring I was in contact with the technician at the cardiologist's office.  She'd give me updates about what type of event the monitor had recorded on it's own versus what I'd prompted it to record. It turns out it only recorded completely normal activity (always in the middle of the night so it'd constantly beep at me to transfer the data--when that happened I usually just unplugged it and dealt with it in the morning since I didn't want to go into the dark backyard to use the phone).  Some of the events I recorded were normal PVC's.  Others were VT's which are much more worrisome.  If you read that link, it's pretty daunting.  My fingers are crossed that mine is minor and can be corrected with another electrical ablation.

After the monitoring was done, I had to get a blood test and an echocardiogram.  I had an echo done in 2008 while in the hospital after my SVT event.  Since then I had the SVT electrical ablation--it'll be interesting to find out if there's been any physical changes to my heart's structure since that time (either due to the ablation procedure or to some other reason).
Doesn't the echo examination table paper look like a 1980s paper towel?
I have an appointment with the cardiologist in a couple of weeks and hopefully I'll find out what's going on.  My dad also has some electrical problems with his heart, which I seem to have inherited.  His are different than mine and are managed with medications.  I emailed my dad and asked if I could get a "refund" since I got a defective heart from him.  His response was: "Hmmmm…….I think that you have to have the product in it’s original packaging, with all of the paperwork. We probably have the paperwork (although, given your mother’s filing system, we could probably never find it) but I doubt that you would fit into the original package any more."  Harharhar. 

Given that I'm only 30 I'm not sure I want to take a slew of medications for the next 60+ years if I can possibly have the problem ablated permanently. And given the state of US health insurance company policies, it might be better for me to have a procedure to completely correct a problem rather than have a "pre-existing condition" for the rest of my (hopefully long) life. Of course my last procedure cost me $3000+ beyond what my measly insurance covered and I bet that money would go a long way for beta blockers.  Obamacare, I need you!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Do you ever wake up and think, is this really my life?

Last week I woke up and realized that I drive a minivan.  A minivan.  As in soccer mom.  As in suburban mom. As in mom-of-several-and-therefore-needs-a-vehicle-with-7-seats. As in mom. I still can't believe we have a child!  I still feel like a child myself.  But I guess children don't have mortgages, life insurance policies, or Google calendar reminders about when their IUD is about to expire.
It's like I just realized that I'm one of those people who needs a big car because I have a lot of stuff to haul around.  Dogs, a child, Costco-sized purchases. And of course when I go visit my husband I have to bring all that stuff and those people with me.  Oy.
Does a more complicated life require a bigger vehicle?  If so, is there a smaller car in my future?
With major life changes facing me, I've been thinking about our life, our stuff.  What would I run out to replace immediately if our house burned down and we lost all our possessions?  The answer is my kitchen items since I use them all the time.  Everything else that could actually be replaced by spending money (not family pictures or other momentos)?  Well, I'm not sure how much I'd actually worry about it.  That being said, I can't seem to reduce the stuff in our lives.  I've thought about our move and the shear volume of things we'll have to pack and transport.  It's a lot!  Books, kitchen appliances, pantry food, a workshop full of tools, hardware, machines, furniture, clothing and linens, leisure items (bikes, boat, patio furnishings), potted plants........eeeeeeeeeee!

I envisions this: in June 2013 we will move from Davis to Gualala.  By living as a complete family for the first time ever, my life will be easier.  Not less complicated, because let's be honest, I don't do uncomplicated very well...just easier.  Maybe 'easier' isn't the right word.  More enjoyable?  But I think I enjoy my life pretty fully.  Maybe 'complete' is the word I'm looking for: Husband/Father + Wife/Mama + Child + Beloved Pets = shared meals, shared experiences, shared bed, shared responsibility.  I'm hoping complete is synonymous with comfortable.  And I hope I'm not being naive about my vision/expectations.

Realistically, most of the parenting responsibility will still probably fall on me since I will work part time for a while.  And Dave's employer will probably try to treat Dave's presence in Gualala on weekends as extra work time (which is soooooooooooooooooo not going to happen, unless it's an emergency).  And then you throw in the possibility of another child or two and all the complication that will definitely bring to the table  (timing, juggling more rambunctious kids, cost of medical insurance, adoption applications and payment, etc.).  Oh boy, I better get ready.

It's a good thing to stand back and evaluate your life once in a while.   And it's also a good thing to just accept things as they are for the time being and go treat yourself to a cup of coffee and a cookie...which is exactly what I'm going to do right now.  And while I sip my cuppa I'll dream about the Julie-and-Dave-only Kauai vacation we just booked for December.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Weekend of Honey, Cousin, Hiking, and Driving

Eddie, the doggies, and I spent the last 4 nights in Gualala and I wish we were still there.  In fact, if it weren't for a cardiologist appointment tomorrow, we might have stayed longer.
We made a quick pit stop at Salt Point State Park.
Eddie had fun blowing dandelion seeds all over the place while the dogs ran around
(and then we got yelled at for not having the dogs on leash...oops).
We arrived on Friday afternoon, to an empty house.  The puppy was in the yard and she was overjoyed to see us--or maybe just Ruby.  My poor girl was terrorized by that rambunctious puppy the entire weekend.  Honestly, the only break Ruby got was at night when all the dogs were sacked out.
Ruby was growling at the puppy for being too close to her on the bed.
Soon everyone else arrived home--Dave, Peggy, and John.  I took Eddie out for a ride on the ATV to see if the excavator was at the shop before making penne pasta for dinner using the load of veggies I'd received in the CSA basket the day before.  John was mystified about eating a meatless meal but we sure did make up for it the rest of the stay.
Apple box?  Eddie box!
Saturday morning Dave and I took Eddie to the beach for the first time ever.  We are the worst parents, I know.  Having lived on the coast for his first three months, we never took him to play in the sand or the waves.  It was windy and sort of cold, but we all had a good time.  The sand wasn't suitable for making big castles and it didn't matter anyway since Eddie kept destroying everything Dave attempted to build anyway.  After about 2 hours we were all exhausted from the cold wind and headed for the grocery store to buy dinner fixings.  Peggy loathes cooking so it's my job when I'm there and she insists on the doing the cleaning up, which is obviously fine with me.  

It is a breath of fresh air to have adults around me, and adults who will eat what I cook.  Normally it's just Eddie and me and he doesn't care about good food or about making pleasant conversation at meals.  Our discussions center around me asking him repeatedly to eat a little more and to sit on his bottom while at the table.  Only about 10% of our conversations include him telling me what he did that day at daycare.  I always make a point of telling him what I did that day and what we're going to do the next day, just so he'll get used to "normal" conversation and hear some new words.  

Anyway, back to the beach:
The boys, with a view of our soon-to-be-home on the cliffs behind them.
My handsome moat-digger.
Wadamus and I were cold toward the end so we buried our legs in the hot sand.
Eddie loved playing house inside these massive drift wood structures people built on the beach.   
There was lots of charred wood scattered around so we made our mark, which blew off in a matter of seconds from the wind.

I had high hopes for Eddie taking a nap after that but he didn't take one.  At least he and Dave had some quiet time on the couch watching shows so I could cook dinner.
I made ginger beef and sapa sui with all those veggies.  I added some ginger to the sapa sui and it was delicious.  John was confused by the glass noodles, saying that he was expecting pasta, not "slippery stuff."
 After Eddie was down for the night, Dave and I headed over to the little apartment at the Sanderson House to replace the broken stove.  Eddie and I purchased the new one on his birthday but it was never installed.  Dave had to convert it to LP, which took about 30 minutes.  Now we just need to replace the hood with the new one I bought and it'll be all ready for guests!
Yuck.  I found this nearly-dead guy on the floor while I was cleaning up all the plastic wrap and cardboard in the apartment. We'd JUST been lying on the floor near it, working on the stove.
Dave says they are all over...I think he didn't tell me about it because he knew it'd freak me out.  
 Sunday morning we had pancakes and then headed over to collect a load of horse manure for the garden.  The people who live at the north end of the runway have 6 horses.  For a while they were scattering the manure around on the field over their fence.  John noticed and said he didn't mind if they put it over the fence, but requested that they put it into a pile so it we could compost it.  This is aweeeeeeeeeeeeesome since the soil is pretty acidic, not very deep, and severely lacking in organic matter--all bad things for the large scale gardening I have in mind when we move up there.
I got to drive the big rig up the runway to collect the poop. 
Papa and Eddie collected the manure to load into the truck.
 I dumped the manure onto a huge bed of partially decomposed redwood shavings.  During every Gualala visit, I plan on using the backhoe to turn the pile so it'll compost nicely.

When we were done with the manure-moving, Mike and Zennie arrived.  Eddie was giddy with excitement at seeing his cousin.  It was so nice to have another adult there so we could take turns watching the kids and getting other stuff done.
Peggy and her youngest boys.
Eddie has mastered Jeep driving and took Zennie on rides every day.
 That afternoon we harvested honey...a pathetic 40 quarts is all.
Papa John manning the electric knife.
I didn't take a picture of dinner that night and it's too bad because it was really good.  We had gnocchi that were boiled, browned in tons of butter, and topped with a creamy pesto-and-sundried-tomato sauce. There was also grilled New York strip steak and salad...but who cares about those when there's pesto gnocci around?
This visit was full of Daddy and Uncle playing.
Cousin bath time!
 Monday morning Mike suggested that we take the kiddos and doggies on a hike in the woods, since these suburban munchkins don't get to do that kind of thing very much.  It was super duper foggy, to the point that I had trouble even finding the old logging road off the runway.
The kids walked/hiked the entire 1.5 hours.  We were super proud of them because it was a lot of work once we entered the woods.
Parts were very steep and slippery with wet leaves.
Our destination was "the big tree," an old growth redwood who presence dictated the logging in this area.  
Eddie and I at the base of the big tree.
 After we saw the big tree, we decided to make a loop instead of going back the way we came.  So we just started hiking "up" the valley until we were out of the woods.  Since we weren't on the old logging roads anymore, it made for quite the adventure (which I loved).  We had to climb over/under downed trees, hop over waterfalls, climb up rocks, etc.

We found this burned out, moss-covered stump, which made for a fun playhouse.
Up, up, up we go!
We stopped at the waterfall to let the doggies get a drink.  Here you can see everyone on the hike except me: Mike, Zennie, Eddie, Tater, Ruby, Zelda, and Puppy.
Mike and Zennie taking a break.
Eventually we emerged from the woods, about 200 yards south of where we entered.  Lucky for us, we were right behind the orchard so we stopped for a snack.
Eddie was double fisting a pear and an apple.
We were all tuckered out, wet, dirty, and cold.  Mike took the kids inside, sans filthy clothing and I bathed each of the dogs in the garage.  Again, I was hopeful that there was a nap in our future, but there was not.

It was nearly lunch time when we got back inside, so after watching some tv and packing up some snacks, we drove out to the logging area to see Dave.
The boys and their munchkins.
Eddie wanted in on the action--the guys were trying to fix a broken something-or-other on the skidder.
We encountered a full logging truck full of redwood logs on the drive in.  While we were there an empty one arrived so the kids got to see the excavator/loader machine lift off the trailer and get it into position to accept the load.  These kids are SPOILED--these machines are featured in so many of Eddie's library books and here, he gets to see them in real life.  Sheesh.
We made yet another trip to the grocery store while we were out.  My goodness we went through so much milk, eggs, and bananas while we were there!

I had planned for us Davis Bowers to leave after lunch on Monday.  But Peggy pleaded with me to stay one more night so the cousins could play together some more.  I'm glad we did because it was really fun for them.  John and Dave were at work and didn't know we'd decided to stay.  We decided to surprise them with a yummy salmon dinner, using up the tail end of the salmon someone had gifted us this summer.  I made herbed mashed potatoes, beets with lemon juice from Peggy's garden, green beans with caramelized onions, and salad.  It was goooooooooood.
Growing up, my mom made fish a lot (snapper, usually). She'd always say this silly poem at dinner: "Fishy, fishy in the brook.  Daddy catch it with a hook.  Mommy fry it in the pan.  Baby eat it like a man."  
The next morning while Dave headed off to work, I packed up the van, washed it, got gas for the return trip, and drove Eddie on the ATV again.  This time we went up to see the horses.  While we were petting the animals, the owner came out to say hello.  I'd never met him before, but since he's the local airplane mechanic, I've seen him flying a lot.  We got to talking about me (someday) getting my pilot's license.  He had some good insights about the resources available in Gualala versus Davis, the time/money it takes, and whatnot.  Also: he has two girls who are the perfect age to baby sit Eddie!  I will have to go meet his girls next time I'm up there--Dave and I would LOVE to go on some dinner dates while we're up there visiting (and his parents don't baby sit).

We departed at noon, making a quick stop at Trink's for bagels and a white mocha to go.  Eddie slept the first two hours of the drive, allowing me to listen to two whole episodes of Radio Lab in peace.  Ahhhh.  This time I listened to Time and Are You My Brain Double?.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Construction Princess

I let Eddie see the fireman picture of Dave during dinner the other night.  So he was inspired to go put on some of his construction worker costume items at the end of dinner since Dave's wearing a yellow helmet in the picture.  
Eddie is three and I love this age so much.  He's a HUGE handful some of the times but his "logic" is hilarious, his vocabulary is astounding, and his preferences make me laugh.  Especially the construction and princess stuff.

As most of you know, Eddie is obsessed with all things construction: heavy equipment, digging holes, building things, hardhats, and tools.  Every library visit involves at least two books on the subject and whenever we see a tractor of any kind while driving or biking we have to talk about it at length: What's it doing?  What's it called? Where's it going? Can I drive it with Daddy? Why does it have tracks instead of wheels?  What kind of bucket is on it?  

For the last month a construction crew ('struction crew') has been working on replacing the water main on Cassie's street and all the way to campus (about 1.5 blocks).  So every pickup/drop off has been extended another 15 minutes because Eddie insists on being able to stand on the sidewalk with me to watch the construction workers doing their jobs.  

On Monday I mentioned to one of the guys that their presence is making it really hard for me to drop Eddie off.  He chuckled and told Eddie to get a different job that is less difficult when he grows up.  I explained what Dave and his dad do for a living--and as it turns out, this guy knows the Bowers!  Crazy small world, this guy is from Point Arena.  Of course I called my mom and she said that we actually know his mom, too.  Weird.  

Anyway, this morning was no different with respect to watching the construction--except that Eddie wanted to wear his Cinderella dress to school.  He got it for his birthday and hadn't worn it yet since I had misplaced all the gifts in the garage.   
Wearing his dress, pink shoes, and blue wig.
He had to ditch the wig in order to wear his helmet on the ride to daycare.   And I showed him how to hold his dress up like a princess so he won't drag it on the ground when he walks.  Did you know Cinderella likes backhoes?
The backhoe operator drove past us with a bucket full of road base and he totally laughed when he saw Princess Eddierella standing there watching him so he blew the horn a few times.  

Monday, September 10, 2012


Dave is certified to be a water tender or a bulldozer operator for Cal Fire.  He's never been able to respond to a fire when called previously because the fires were too far away or they were contained before he and his dad could get their equipment out there.

But in the last two weeks there have been two fires near Gualala.  The first one was a result of a logger falling a tree that hit a power line, which sparked a fire in some very dry brush.  Since Dave was on the bulldozer in the logging operation already he didn't have to travel at all.  Of course, at the point when Dave helped contain the blaze, it wasn't yet a Cal Fire issue.
Fireman Davie!
Then last Tuesday night, he and his dad were called by Cal Fire to help with a fire near Gualala.  Dave's shift was from 9pm-9am.  Whew.  He said it was too steep, dusty, and foggy to get closer than 2 miles from the fire so he had to sit and wait until someone needed water from his truck.  As of this morning, he said he heard it was contained to only 6 acres.  It's a small enough fire that I can't even find it on the Cal Fire website (and that's a good thing).

I've always had a goal of being on the volunteer fire crew up in Gualala someday...maybe once all my kids are in school.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Breakfast Picnic at Northstar Park

This morning we decided to have breakfast in the park--with donuts!  Yum!  Dave picked up donuts while I packed up some huge Thermoses with coffee and milk and got Eddie and myself ready.  Then we loaded the dogs up into the van and took off to Northstar Park.
Here you can see the pond and the playground behind as we approached the park from the north end.

Northstar Park has retention ponds and wetlands that help mitigate flooding in Davis, as well as provide habitat for a variety of birds.  Of course, Eddie didn't care about all that, he was just interested in the playgrounds. We played hide and seek and dug a hole in the sand looking for treasure after we ate our breakfast.
Bowers enjoying our coffee and sweet breakfast treats!
I love this Thermos set--isn't it awesome?  It probably dates from the 1970s or 1980s. I helped a family friend clean out her parents' house in SF after they passed away and we found this.  Along with many other household items, she let me have this since she didn't have a use for it.  (Our rotary phone, double boiler, and parfait glasses came from there, too. All vintage, all awesome.)
So now we have only 15 new Davis parks to visit before the end of June, to complete our mission of visiting all the parks before we move.  I'm not sure we'll make it to all the Yolo County parks, but we'll try.