About Ashlin

Join me as I start down the path of mini-homesteading! Mistakes will be made, and obstacles conquered as we navigate this adventure.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

We are totally pulling up the neighborhood’s value with our landscaping!  It’s all us!

I’ll have to get some more shots.  The front and back and fairly smoothed over now, pipes and sprinklers are all laid out.  It sounds like they are trying to level out the backyard as the middle part is more sloped inward like a fish bowl.  Then they will grade the areas and truck in topsoil and water it over the course of a few days to let it settle, then they will bring in the sod.  They still need to work on landscaping the flower beds and gravelling the front strip area but they have gotten a lot done.  I feel bad for Benny, who has been at MIL’s for a week now, but he’ll probably be excited to come to a yard with grass.

Our deck guy said he should be starting around Wednesday so hooray for that!

Ezra had his Gifted and Talented test the other day.  I wasn’t too sure how he had done because when I asked the woman she said he did “about average.”  I was thinking, average compared to what?  Other first graders?  Other gifted students?  People in general?  But he must have done well enough because we got a call later than day saying his scores were high enough to place him in a Gifted program.  Only problem is all the slots are filled so we’re on a wait list.  It’s not first come, it’s based on how high his scores are compared to other kids on the list, but she didn’t know where he fell on the list.  It seems to me if you have gifted kids they should find a place for them in the program.  So fingers crossed we get into this program, but at least he will be in first grade regarding of which school we place him in.  There are also a few charter schools that have good reviews, need to look into those.

 

Landscape, ho!

Our yard is finally getting worked on!  I am REALLY excited about it, can you tell?  I took a couple “before” shots and am trying to get in some photos while they are actually working on it.  Right now the front yard is pretty much completely scraped to nothing with the exception of a few plants/trees that we were keeping.  The backyard has been scraped a little bit but still has quite a bit more to go before it’s ready for plumbing and sod.

It’s such a beautiful day this morning, I totally didn’t want to go to work.  It’s about 6:30am and right around 70 degrees!  Perfect weather for a hike!  Of course, if I hadn’t had to come into work I’d still be sleeping right now and missing out on the wonderful morning.  On the other hand, I’m stuck inside a building so it’s not like I’m able to enjoy it anyway…hmm.

Benny is staying over at my in-laws house for the duration of the yard demolition.  Our fencing had to come down so all the equipment can come and go.  It sounds like he is enjoying himself tolerably well.  The kittens are loving a dog-free space and have taken over his huge dog bed.  They are in for a surprise when he comes back.  Jojo kitty still hisses and swipes at the kittens but I have noticed she doesn’t immediately run when they are around and she lets them get closer to her than before.  Baby steps I guess.

We went to see Cinderella at the Broadway at the Eccles Theatre the other night.  It was a fun night out.  Velvet, Laura, Jesse, and I ate dinner at Settebello, a fairly authentic pizzeria.  They fire-brick-oven bake their dishes and their dough is awesome!  We got a Nutella pizza for dessert and holy crap, I could eat those every day.  Friggin’ fantastic.

A proper gent, he is.

The theatre was pretty close by the restaurant and we decided to park in the lot that is right across from the theatre (usually we park in the one about a block away).  It was nice parking there and just a jaunt to the building but leaving was a whole other story and I’m not sure if we’ll end up parking there again.  Maybe just in the winter months.

The Cinderella show itself was ok.

The set design was great and one of the stepsisters was very funny but the lead was just so-so.  I guess I was expecting more twists or something.  During one of the scenes the fire alarm went off and we were told to exit the building.

Sad we are being evacuated

It was crazy, one moment the cast is all dancing at a ball and then sirens and lights are flashing and suddenly WOOSH, no more dancers on stage.  We were waiting to go down the stairs when we heard it was ok to go back to our seats.

They let us back in!

Apparently some of the special effects triggered the smoke alarms.  We all came back to our seats and 10 minutes later the play started up again.  Credit to the actors, they started back up almost right where they had left off.  We have another show at the end of the month, Dirty Dancing.

All the kids are out of school now.  Ezra is pretty happy, he thinks he is going to get to play Minecraft all day, every day.

I keep telling him that is not going to be the case but I don’t think it’s sinking in.  Our yard will be ready soon and I fully expect the kids to spend much of their days outside, playing on the lovely new grass, having squirt gun water fights.

Leo says he is ok with that.

Kidney stone update

Well, I survived.

Honestly, that was my main fear going into this procedure, that I wasn’t going to come out of anesthesia.  My main intake nurse was awesome!  She had this nifty light box that shows all your veins!  I don’t know why they don’t just use that every time they have to do IVs.  Another nurse held the light box to show the veins and then my main nurse just slid the IV right in, easy peasy.  I didn’t even bruise.  I mean AT ALL.  She was crazy good.  Jesse sat with me for a couple hours until he had to go pick up Ezra from school and wouldn’t you know it, a couple minutes later is when we got started.

I met Dr. Gannon for the first time when he came in to introduce himself and to go over the procedure.  I had met with the nurse practitioner the first time through but he had a good bedside manner and I felt comfortable with him.  The anesthetist gave me a dose of something that I felt almost immediately and then we were rolling down the hall to the operating room. A day or two earlier I had watched a couple YouTube videos on laser lithotripsy and that was a mistake.  It’s interesting to watch it happen to someone else but when you know it’s going to happen to you it’s a whole different matter.  Basically they have you spread eagle and go in with a catheter, guide wires, and a camera and once they find the kidney stone they bring in a small laser and blast the hell out of it.  I sat on the OR bed and got situated and the last thing I remember was placing my left arm into position.  Then I was waking up.

As much as I’m grateful for coming out of anesthesia, I freaking hate the process.  I feel like it lasts a long time in my system and I’m always nauseous and end up vomiting and just feeling all around icky.  I was in the recovery room for a couple hours and then Jesse took me home.  They left a stent in my ureter that needed to come out a week later and sent me home with a bunch of pills.

I took it easy the rest of the day and all the next day and aside from cramping throughout the week that followed, it wasn’t too bad.  I had the stent removed one week later and that was a strange process.  They took me back into this little procedure room and had me strip from the waist down and then they had to clean me.  It’s a weird process in which everyone tacitly agrees to not mind that your downstairs parts are on display and being methodically handled.  Dr. Gannon came in right after my bits had been smeared with lidocaine.  I think I was more nervous for the stent retrieval than the more invasive procedure I’d had done earlier because I was completely awake and aware.  But, he had me watch the camera scope on the screen and it was pretty interesting and not painful, just weird feeling, and then it was done.  That stent was MUCH larger than I thought it would be!

I wasn’t surprised that I had been cramping after that.  A day or two later and I’m feeling pretty much back to normal.

They said it was about 20% calcium and about 80% uric acid which comes from eating a lot of protein.  Dr. Gannon said to just make sure I drink more water and to try to eat less red meat.  I told him I could comply with the more water but eating less meat probably wasn’t going to happen.  The thing is, without regular CT scans there is no way to know how long that stone had been building.  It could have been a couple months, it could have been 10 years, there is just no way to know.  So, I’ll just keep an eye out for any similar symptoms and go from there.

Leo had his 2nd birthday a few days ago.  I always think about the day I gave birth to him (read parts 1, 2, and 3) and the trauma that followed after and I always get little panicky feelings, especially when I remember coming out of the ketamine and the crazy psychedelic hallucinations and the terrifying, smothering memory of being intubated and feeling like I was suffocating because I couldn’t take a full, deep breath.  I try not to think about it too often but it’s there in the background.

On a lighter note, we got new kittens!  Two female kitties, Keiko and Lana.  Keeks likes to be cuddled and pet more than Lana, Lana is a bit more flighty.  They have already grown so much in the couple weeks we’ve had them.  Here is a shot from when we first brought them home.

Benny is quite infatuated with them.  They haven’t helped calm him down, really, but at least they will grow up getting mauled regularly by a dog so it won’t seem traumatic to them.

I watched Gone with the Wind the other day for the first time.  It was more interesting than I thought it’d be but it’s not one I need to watch over and over again.  That Scarlett was a real wench!  Always thinking about her needs.  I would have thought her character would have grown from the beginning of the film to the end but she pretty much stayed self-centered throughout the whole thing.

We are in the process of getting Ezra tested so he can skip kindergarten and go straight to first grade.  He’s a little smartypants, is already reading pretty well, doing multiplication, all the things and more that he’d learn in K.  It’s crazy how resistant his school has been in helping us get him tested.  They wanted to just wait until K starts and then test him the first week and then maybe have him in half-day K and then half-day first grade.  How the heck does that make any sense?!  He’d be missing out on a whole half day of advanced information.  At this point we’ve filled out the paperwork and are just waiting on hearing back for when they can schedule him to be tested.  We want him to be tested for the Gifted program as well but because that starts in first grade we have to get the other testing done first.  Endless looping.

We have our new windows scheduled to be installed this week and our deck should get replaced in maybe one or two weeks.  It’s been somewhat rainy here so our deck guy’s other projects have been delayed so now our deck is delayed.  We have settled on a new landscaping company and now we have to finalize the process with them and hopefully than can start in the next week or two, FINALLY.

Kidney stones

I had my CT scan and it turns out I have a very large kidney stone.  Kind of crazy and I had ruled it out because I don’t have any pain but apparently it’s in a position where it doesn’t cause pain.  They said they don’t know how long it’s been there, could be years could be months, and I definitely cannot pass it on my own so I have to have a surgery to remove it.  I find it interesting they call it surgery because no cutting is involved.  I don’t have the right kind of stone to be able to use that ultrasonic wave machine to break up the stone so they have to go in with a laser to shatter it and then vacuum it out.  I’m not looking forward to that at all because I have to be put under and after having had my trauma with Leo’s birth I am super sketched out about that process.  Jesse says it’s silly because it’s not the anesthetics that caused my heart to stop, it was blood loss, but technically we *don’t* know what caused my heart to stop.  Most likely it WAS blood loss.  But there is no way to know for sure and I’m scared I won’t wake up from what should be a very easy procedure.  In any event, I have it scheduled in a couple weeks.

We put down payments on the windows and our deck finally and are trying to work out landscaping.  The people we hired to do the job have been kind of shady so we had another team out to bid on it a few days ago and are waiting for their quote now.  We’ve simplified the design but they are a larger firm with more overhead so not sure what it’ll all come out to.

Ezra had end of the year testing at his preschool at got a 166/167 which is apparently fantastic.  I guess they test at the Kindergarten level and he’s already where he should be by the end of his Kindergarten year.  His teacher told us we should get him into a dual-language program, the Gifted and Talented program, or skip him a year.  We’re looking into our options.

We’re still looking at kittens on KSL.  I see some that are cute but it seems like these people are all trying to get ride of 6-week kittens and I’m thinking they should be at least 8-week kittens before they leave mama, at the earliest, right?  Jojo is going to be PISSED when we get them.  She already hates Benny, she’s not going to want to share us with other animals.

Jesse is taking the boys with him in August to go see an eclipse or star show of some kind, I can’t recall.  I don’t have the time available to go with them so I will be staying home.  I have to say, I’m looking forward to that.  I get the house to myself, peace and quiet, and aside from fearing death at the hands of thieves I think it should be a relaxing time.

We have the family trip to Oregon in August as well.  It’s going to be a good month!

Leo has slowly started to string more words together.  Generally I still cannot make out what he’s trying to say but I like that he’s attempting it.  We’re still having some issues with Ezra not listening to us and general zaniness but I don’t think it’s anything serious, I think it’s because he’s five.  He learns so quickly!  He was singing whole strings of verse to me the other day.  Doesn’t quite have pitch and tone down yet but the memory retention is on point.

I started fermenting vegetables in a quart mason jar the other day.  I included onions, garlic, carrots, cauliflower, and asparagus then filled it with brine (salt water).  I don’t know how it will taste but when I loosen the lid ring to release the gasses it smells awesome!  I do believe I will start another kombucha batch either today or tomorrow.  It’s been so long since I’ve made it I’m going to have to look up the recipe to see how much sugar to water to use.  On the fence about starting sourdough bread again.  On the one hand I know fermented food is beneficial and fermented dough is easier to digest, but on the other hand I’m trying to eat low carb and even fermented bread is probably too much starch.  Will have to think on that.

Have I mentioned before that I think I want to get into flipping houses and owning rentals?  I totally want to do that.  I think owning property is a great investment for retirement.  I told Velvet she should get in the property flipping with me.  She’s done a lot of work around her house and would be helpful in this endeavor.  She seemed interested but neither one of us will have the capital to purchase property anytime soon.  I’m just getting a wee bit tired of what I’m doing for work.  They work itself is ok, I just don’t necessarily like having to deal with the public.  I’ve been doing in for over eight years now and it’s getting old, you know?  Working with my hands, painting, puttying holes in walls, it’s much more visual the stuff you get accomplished.  I think I would like that.

April 2017 keto log

4.1.17 – I was pretty much keto free for the month of March.  I attempted it here and there but didn’t stick to it at all.  I love me some Cadbury eggs.  And donuts.  And goldfish crackers…  I am up to 243 as of this morning.  My “Yay I lost two pants sizes!” pants are fairly tight on me.  So, back to the grindstone this morning.

I thought to just go all out with a fast but I think I would be fairly miserable pretty quickly so I’m just doing keto and maybe when I’m fat adapted again will ease back into fasting.  We’ll see.

4.30.17 – I did keto for a little bit of the month.  Does that count?  Probably not.  Hovering around 243 though was 248 a week ago.  I’ve been downing Master Blast ice creams from Sonic lately, their Peanut Butter and Cookie Dough Dream.  And then I add Heath Bar to the mix.  It’s fricking amazing.  But, not amazing for my waistline or blood sugar so no more for me.  At least for awhile.  Yesterday was my first low carb day again.  It’s shocking how much carbohydrate we eat without thinking about it and how much we miss it when it’s gone.  Fingers crossed May is a better month.