Sunday, July 27, 2008


thanks dad!

two awesome pieces

too bad i have no place to put these, darn it!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

She's Home!!!







there were lots of hugs and smiles for emily, she had a great time (but oh man is she tired!) i was happy to hear about many camp traditions that i experienced as a camper myself, through my daughter's eyes, very cool. she says she saw a bear, hmmmmm.... and it ate the ice cream they made? yikes! other than that though, there didnt seem to be any real problems, just lots of adventure! the way camp should be. cant wait to hear more and get the pictures she took developed. soon to be posted, for sure.

day off part four

i was too tired to post this last part of our day, but we made it to our local concert in the park last night. we finally started going to these at the end of last years concert series and were hooked. this year we have gone to all but the first one. we bike over with our chairs and food while the kids run around together in a wild frenzy of activity. sometimes the music is great, sometimes not so great, but it is always relaxing. 



i got that dr. pepper for lizzy as a bribe (yes i am admiting it) but i made it last through several meals making it the bribe that kept on giving. so twice a week we are biking to local parks (this one on fridays) and we go to a park at the beach on wednesdays to hear these free concerts. i will be missing this family activity for sure when summer ends.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

lizzy gets mail


a letter came from emily today, she addressed it to lizzy so i am patiently waiting for liz to get home from school so "she" can open it! can't wait to see how she is doing at camp.

liz on her own


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

busting out tomatoes


actually, i am still pleased as pudding with my garden and the over abundance of tomatoes. i have had a standing bowl of salsa for weeks now and eating pasta with tomato/garlic/onion sauce nightly is nothing to complain about  (i even throw in zucchini). all i ever wanted was tomatoes on top of tomatoes and then even more tomatoes... we will see in a month from now but i think i will still be over the moon with these red babies.


in case you are wondering, my favorite by far is the "juliet" with tomatoes a little larger than a grape but a tad smaller than a roma. they are coming in groups of six or more, super firm and red... sweet and amazing. my early girl is running out of gas, the beefstake had to be pulled (i got about 20 from it before it got too buggy and yellow). the orange tomato had to go today, i got maybe 5 from it before it got sick. the cherry is going strong, the brandywine is putting out these huge pink tomatoes (in the picture its at the top left), the italian roma is in full swing and something i cant remember is busting at the seams with medium round tomatoes (i think it is surplice or something like that). i planted a late tomato bush that is just starting to flower, hoping to keep the season as long as possible.

i have never had sunflowers before and can i just say, i am in love!!! having to seed and re-seed over and over gave me quite the variety!



Monday, July 21, 2008

camp wintaka

emily headed off to camp today!



the nurse checks temp, head and feet

pimped out bus, not sure about this (we had old school buses with stuck windows and sang camp songs for entertainment, these guys are watching "shark tales" and have a bathroom, hmmmmmmm...)

liz has mixed emotions sending her sister off


heading back home, liz said, "now i can play with emily's toys!" seems she is over being sad about her big sister going to camp.

Friday, July 18, 2008

so you want to be an ultrasound tech? breast imaging 101

i guess i have neglected this part of my blog, the "career" part where i thought i would give great useful advice about being an ultrasound tech and found that i was just a big whiney burnout when i went down that path. i am one of those people who gets around a bunch of complainers and i happily join in until some cheerful person puts me in my place, then i realize i need to be thankful and all that, blah blah blah. 

anyways, i have so many highs and lows with my job, i think the roller coaster ride keeps me from getting bored, but it can really wear me out too. for one, i see sick people all day who by their very nature are cranky. then, if i am around pregnant women all day, there are serious hormones raging not to mention the "this is the most exciting wonderful scary wacky crazy maybe stupidist thing i have ever done to myself" thing going on. so, here i am just scratching people off a list to get to a lunch break or to get home to my family and i have a person in a crisis of some kind, one after another. i have to read minds, read a blurry image on the screen, diagnose for the doctor (and sell my work to him/her even if its crappy) and then make absolutely certain i dont tell the patient too much (practicing medicine without a license, a big no no) or be too robotic and "mean" getting myself a patient complaint. personally, i dont have a problem telling a patient my opinion, exactly what is wrong with them, if i think they need a new doctor or if they need to see a shrink, but if i want to keep my job, i have to be very very careful. this to me, is the biggest dilemma i face. what to say and how to say it.

recently i have been at a breast imaging center, covering for a tech who broke her scapula (ouch!) anyways, now that i am getting into the "older lady" crowd, i find so much more in common with all the women there and so much more compassion for what they are going through. you see, when a person gets a mammogram, they may or may not realize the actual "process" they are going through. i want to get it out to everyone, because i have found many people thanking me for just plainly explaining what breast imaging is all about. 

so here goes: unless you have a strong family history of breast cancer and/or other factors your doctor can explain, you need to start at age 40 with your annual mammograms. luckily for women today, you can choose a breast center, which is a place that does only breast imaging. i recommend a place like this where the radiologists specialize in reading breast exams. mammograms work by comparing one year to the next, comparing you to yourself, year after year. the subtle changes in your breasts will alert the doctor to something that may or may not be cancer. if there is anything strange found on your "screening" mammogram, which is just a few views taken quickly on each breast, then the doctor will recommend additional views. this happens every day, is very common, is just a second look. when the mammogram tech squishes your breast in the machine, it makes patterns on the image, if there is a mass, no matter how many times or positions they squish you, it wont go away. so, if they take a different view and it goes away, it is likely just normal tissue bunched up in a weird way. 

now, ultrasound, sometimes looking with ultrasound will help by finding a cyst (super easy to see on ultrasound) or a solid, easy to see mass or sometimes a cancer can be seen. the most important thing to me is that it all works together for the most part. yes, there are people who come in, they have a screamingly obvious cancer which is quickly found. but most often its a small suspicious thing, maybe additional views are taken and it still looks weird, an ultrasound shows it is suspicious... now what? a simple biopsy (which thankfully is so fast and easily done nowadays) can take the tiniest piece of tissue and a diagnosis quickly made so the patient can get treatment fast. this is how it works. it shouldnt be horrifically scary, it should be something we all have to do every year, just like our paps so we can give ourselves the best odds of finding something bad early and fast. this all may sound simple, but i get so many women who tell me they didnt know the importance of going to the same place every year or if youget your films if you move because the radiologist will be comparing year to year to year. thats how the science of diagnostic breast imaging works. also, we now have MRI's of the breast which are another tool used to find breast cancer and can be a great benefit for early detection (i am not a pro on this because it is out of the realm of what i do, but usually MRI's are for people with known cancer to analyze it better and/or for following up after the cancer has been removed).

when a woman is young, her breasts are firm and nice and all that good stuff. on a mammogram the breast of a young woman is too dense to see through easliy, this tissue can hide a lump or mass. an ultrasound can sometimes find a mass in a young person better than the mammogram, but it can still be tricky. this type of "young" breast is called "fibrocystic" tissue and many people tell me they have "fibrocystic disease" which in fact is very common and at least to me, isnt really a disease. (frankly i cringe at the word "fibrocystic" because it has so many different meanings)  i just wish the doctors would explain this better to women so they dont run around thinking they have some kind of disease, breasts are glands and they get sore and respond to hormones in your body. i cant tell you how many people come in with the complaint their breasts hurt every month around their period and are concerned something is wrong. so, young breasts are just plain difficult because of the very nature of young breast tissue, it is lumpy and bumpy. this means young people really need to be diligent in checking each month, feeling for lumps and bumps and to never be afraid to go to the doctor if they think something feels different. remember "young" means up to 40 years of age, to me anyway, and some people have lumpy, dense breasts even after 40. 

as we get older, our breasts usually get more fatty and loose and hangy (all crappy stuff but you know what??) mammograms love fatty droopy breasts and can see right through them making breast cancer easier to find. this is the only good news i have ever heard about getting old, saggy baggy breasts, yippee! at least a little good news there. so everyone needs to feel good about getting their annual breast exam, a mammogram for sure after age 40 and go every year. dont be worried if they call you back, they just want to squish you a little more and their goal is to find something small, the doctor looks very closely and i have never met a radiologist who doesnt take breast imaging very seriously (and they are PICKY and conservative usually) which is a good thing for the patient, a grind for the tech, but hey! most of us dont mind too much since our goal is to send a patient home with an accurate honest result. right?

whew! the reason for this long post? well i have had a more than the usual amount of people asking me how to become an ultrasound tech, if i like it, isnt it fun? and i always tell them "do you REALLY want to know?" it can be so icky and sad at times. being at the breast center has reminded me to be more compassionate and i have had some really nice interactions with my patients, lots of thank-yous and hugs and even a few tears too.  instead of feeling like i am doing a thankless job, i have had some nice feedback. so i guess i just needed to find my niche, for now anyways.

ok, on a more summery note: a few pictures of a great ride down to the beach we took one evening this week (12 mile ride!)





here's a breast cancer link that came with a comment made on this post, it was pretty interesting.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

making blocks, your turn

ok guys, here goes... remember the only sewing i had was in home economics class about 25 years ago!


start with 6 sides, make sure they are straight and square (i get sloppy sometimes and it makes the corners harder to match up) designate a "bottom" and sew 4 sides to it.


add a "top" to one side

sew up the sides to make a box, this is the trickiest part because your corners can get bunchy. i just make sure the edges line up and the corner match. when you sew you will sew across the corners like this:


just run right to the end and even though it looks weird, the straight stitching will make a crisp corner when you turn it, oh did i mention in the beginning that we are sewing all right sides together? making a box that is inside out... see i am great at tutorials! geez...

here is the box, just fold the top over and sew three sides down and then half of the fourth, leaving an opening to turn right side out and stuff.

almost done

the fun part is stuffing and finishing off

i dont recommend using a pencil (i like chopsticks) and these dont really need anything, the hole you leave should be big enough to get your fingers into easily

finished! sorry this is the last photo, i was on to something else and forgot to get a "smiling kid/block all done" photo... this is emily's personalized block and she wisked it off to play with.

good luck! remember these blocks are homemade and all the imperfections make them unique and special, right?