How To Deal with Miscarriage, Postpartum Depression & Lingering Pain

People often talk about the trials of postpartum depression that sometimes face a new mother with a baby. Your hormones are going through lots of intense changes, your body has gone through some huge trials, and you are beyond exhausted. Any woman who has ever had a bad case of PMS (and any man in her life for that matter), should understand on some level how hormones can play serious havoc on your mind and well being. I did not deal with postpartum depression after our son was born, but I have faced something similar on many occasions now.

As I wrote about in this previous blog entry, miscarriage is often a topic we do not discuss much as a society. It is an unfortunate fact since I feel strongly that women who have gone through a miscarriage probably are even more in need of strong postpartum support. Women who have gone through a miscarriage have all of the same factors listed above that can contribute to postpartum depression. The only difference is the new mothers who are diagnosed with postpartum depression have one thing the other women do not…a new baby to hold.

With all of my miscarriages before our son was born, each one was devastating. I felt inadequate, deformed, incomplete. I felt like there was an innate ability that most women possessed that I just did not seem capable of, carrying new life into this world. I even read one article that claimed that women with my particular uterine birth defect were not completely female and were somewhat akin to asexual beings. I happened to read that article right after a miscarriage, and I cried for days after I read that and didn’t get out of bed. That idiot medical “professional” obviously has no clue what he is saying, and if I ever met him I would probably punch him in the face.

With this most recent miscarriage, I had a different situation than in the past. I finally had a child of my own to give me comfort. This time around came with its own set of challenges though. The day of the miscarriage was a traumatic event for all of us. I think I was in shock when it happened, and I kept yelling “it’s a baby, it’s a baby,” over and over. I felt awful that our son came into the room to see what was wrong. The bathroom was a frightening scene and he started crying horribly. It reminded me a little of the traumatic scenes in the show Dexter where he (and later his own son) were traumatized by witnessing such a gruesome scene. I felt horrible that the whole thing affected our son so much. I felt guilty that somehow I was not able to shield him from this traumatic event. The weeks since the miscarriage have been really difficult, and his sleep patterns have definitely been disturbed. He is finally settling back into a normal routine, but for the weeks since the loss, he has woken up every night with a nightmare, crying and yelling, “baby, baby!”. I have been running on empty trying to soothe him, and being filled with guilt for the fact that the whole event upset him so much.

In addition, this particular miscarriage left me in an unusual amount of physical pain for quite a long time. Normally with a miscarriage, the physical pain starts to go away after the bleeding finishes. Unfortunately, with this case, the pain continued for weeks. One day in particular, it got so bad that I was concerned something was wrong. My doctor had not ordered a follow up ultrasound after the miscarriage (we aren’t sure why it wasn’t ordered), and I was starting to get concerned that there may be some problems with lingering tissue. I went to the urgent care, and after several hours there, I was sent to the emergency room. I wanted to avoid the emergency room at all costs since I hate exposing our son to all of the germs there, but the urgent care center did not have an ultrasound machine. Thankfully, my parents came to bring Edison out of the E.R. waiting room.

After a bunch of tests and ultrasounds in the E.R., the doctors had no conclusive answers about why I was still in excruciating pain. They could definitely pinpoint from the ultrasound that the pain was coming from my uterus (the area was extremely sore to the touch and I was wincing in pain every time they put the ultrasound wand near that area). They told me that unfortunately they did not know why I was still in pain, but there was no remaining tissue and no cysts currently on my uterus or ovaries. I could see from the ultrasound that my uterus looked a little stretched out still compared to its usual (abnormal) shape. Since this miscarriage happened in the early second trimester, my uterus must have started to stretch out a bit.

After a few hours of being in the E.R. without our son, I started to notice a slight lessening in the pain. When I started thinking about the way I described the pain to the doctors, I started to realize it was sounding a lot like contractions. The pain got worse the more I was on my feet, etc. Our son had a particularly rough day when things got really bad for me, and he had been binge nursing around the clock. I started to realize that the breastfeeding must have been triggering prolonged postpartum contractions. I also started thinking back about my pregnancy with our son. My uterus has a birth defect and is classified as t-shaped, and comprised of what is called nonelastic tissue. This means that it is extra small, and when it does stretch, it hurts like crazy and I ended up getting lots of tiny little tears throughout my second trimester with our son. I realized that I was probably really sore now because it had started to stretch and tear with this pregnancy as well, and then the contractions were happening, aggravating the already intense pain from the little tears. Once I figured out what was causing the pain, it made it easier to deal with. I have a very high pain threshold, and have been starting to feel a lot better. Things also seem to finally be healing up. I am still a bit sore, but the contractions have finally stopped.

With this miscarriage, I spent a lot of time cuddling our little guy, which really helped with the emotional pain of the loss. I am so grateful to have him, despite all of the odds, and just spending time playing with him really helped me a lot. This miscarriage was very traumatic in ways that my previous miscarriages were not, particularly because I saw the tiny baby intact, and had deep regret for not trusting my gut instincts, despite what the doctors were telling me about whether or not I was pregnant in the first place. I kind of felt in a certain way that only the three of us that had been in that room really understood the pain that we were all going through with this loss.

I am not a medical professional or a professional in the field of psychology, but I know that different people deal with depression in their own ways. I knew that I was starting to feel symptoms of severe depression after this miscarriage. When I have gone through previous miscarriages, I have gotten very depressed, not leaving the house for months at times. I didn’t want to be a depressed mother, so I tried to figure out what works best for me personally to help get myself out of a slump of depression. I am naturally more of an introvert by nature, and I am most comfortable just with my two guys. I also am happiest when working on my garden, so that is what I did. Edison and I spent extra time working in the garden, and I used the gardening to work through my physical and emotional pain. I have always found so much joy in gardening because there is something so wonderful about nurturing life and beauty. I feel strongly that my gardening has helped me work through the pain and emotional struggles with our battle with “infertility”. Even though I have had a really difficult time nurturing new life in my body, I have no trouble nurturing new life and growth in my garden. My plants are my other babies (my roses even joined in on signing my mother’s day card too). Also, hard physical work can really help distract you from chronic pain. To my friends, I apologize if we have been a bit antisocial. It is nothing personal…this is just how I work through things best. Edison is definitely more social than my husband and I are, so he was not always happy about being at home so much, but he loves working in the garden too.

I also started thinking about my goals for the garden, which reminded me about how I had wanted to enter a vegetable in the “biggest specimen” category at the Orange County Fair. When my big squash won first place and division winner, I felt such a sense of joy, pride, and accomplishment. There is something so refreshing for the soul to set a goal and meet it. As silly as this may sound, this particular squash plant felt like a gift from God just for me, to lift my spirits. I was so sad that we installed our new raised beds so late in the season this year, and I was convinced that I would have nothing to enter in the “biggest” category for the fair. This little squash plant sprouted on its own from my homemade compost, and with a little love and care, my mystery squash grew quite large. When I stood there that day with my ribbons, I started to feel the heavy weight of depression lifting off me.

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For any other women out there who have gone through a miscarriage, I strongly encourage you to seek help if you need it. Don’t be ashamed to ask for support from those around you, or consult with a professional for help. Do some reflection and think about what you enjoy most in life, and do it. Do that activity as often as you can, whether it is working out, gardening, singing, crafting, whatever. Draw your loved ones close. Put distance from others for a bit if you are more of an introvert and that helps you. Do whatever you need to do that helps you feel more like yourself again and helps you acknowledge and deal with the loss. Give your body ample time to rest too…the massive blood loss has always taken a toll on my energy levels. Eat as healthy as possible and replenish your body. Postpartum support for women with a miscarriage is so important, and so completely overlooked in our society today. For all of you ladies who have suffered a similar loss, know that you are not alone.

Weekly Dose of Edison: Orange County Fair 2014 Wrapup

I took a lot of pictures this year during our time at the Orange County Fair, and I wanted to share some of my favorites (the ones that I haven’t posted already anyway).

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Getting my flowers ready to bring for the cut flower competition.
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I entered two different giant squashes, on two different weeks. The second one was not as big as my first one. This one won third prize.
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My limes did not win a prize, but I was still proud of those little guys!
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Same with my apples, especially since that apple tree is brand new to us!
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My figs were up pretty high on the display (so I couldn’t get a good shot), but they didn’t get a ribbon either. :(
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My kumquats got second place!
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My succulent arrangement won first place and division winner for the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle contest! So proud of this one. :)
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This spindly little succulent was my entry for most unusual container plant. It did not win a ribbon, but I am still proud of how it is so odd looking! This plant was one of my rescues (saved from an ugly divorce situation where the wife was intentionally allegedly trying to harm the husband’s plants. I have come across some interesting plant rescue stories via Craigslist).
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One of my teapot entries.
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I was sad that my little teapot from our wedding didn’t win a ribbon, but I heard lots of nice feedback about both of my teapots. :)
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My little wooden clogs were my entry for most unusual container. It sadly did not win a ribbon, but I overheard at least four fairgoers commenting on how they thought it should have won one, which made me really happy.
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My little baby staghorn fern won second place, up against some huge ones!
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In the cut flower department, my succulent bloom won second place!
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My fuchsia won third place!
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My pretty (and somewhat unusual) geranium won third place!
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My climbing roses won third place also!
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Edison and I proudly posing with our big winner of the week. He helped put mulch in there so it is partially his award too. ;)
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For those of you who garden, who inspired you to start gardening? Who do you turn to with gardening questions? For me, my dad was the one that started me off early with cultivating a green thumb. He got me started at the age of two with my own little vegetable garden, and a little flower garden and flower boxes around my playhouse that he built. I still text him frequently with panicked what do I do?!? questions. His mom was an avid gardener, and it is definitely something that is being passed down to each generation.
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The first time that we all went to the Orange County Fair, I was pregnant with Edison. I have never been a big meat eater, but when I saw the signs for those giant Texas turkey legs, I had to have one. I think I shocked my whole family. This year, I finally understood my pregnancy cravings for those turkey legs. I was not able to capture Edison’s first taste a previous night of these turkey legs (my hands were greasy and I didn’t want to dirty up the camera). The first night, he literally had tears of joy rolling down his face because he was so excited. We were hoping for the same the second time around (I kept my hands clean so I could get pictures of him eating this time). No tears the second time, but he was still really excited.
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Grandpa’s head makes a great drum!
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Watching the motor derby.
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About to get on his first pony ride!
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We live in an area with a lot of horses. Every time we go out to run errands, there are people riding horses down the main road. I think since Edison sees people on horses so often, he took to the pony ride like a pro. :)
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Goofballs!
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I really wish we could get some baby goats. :)
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I was very nervous about this activity. I am still breastfeeding Edison, and he is a milk fiend. I was so afraid when we explained to him that he was going to milk the fake cow that he would end up putting his mouth on one of the rubber nipples. Surprisingly, he followed my husband’s instructions very well!
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Edison helps me brush our pets daily, so this activity booth was a no-brainer for him.
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My ribbon collection from this year. Things were too chaotic here with projects when the fair started, and then I was feeling really weak for a while after my miscarriage, so I only got to participate in the last two weeks of the fair (the orange ribbons are participation ribbons for each week). I am pretty proud of my 11 ribbons in just two weeks! We will see how well I do next year when I am more organized and things are hopefully less chaotic around here. ;)
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My Summer Reading List

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I have to admit, I am not very organized with my gardening. I try at times, but I end up gardening more like an artist than a scientist (and that aggravates my engineer husband at times). I fertilize and water the plants based on how much I feel they need, not calculated amounts. I try to keep on a schedule but I always loose track. I decided that going forward, I am going to get a lot more organized with my gardening. I have tons of gardening books that I refer to when needed, but I decided that it is time to go through, really get in depth with these books, and start creating a more organized approach to my gardening. I’m pleased with how my gardening entries did this year at the Orange County Fair, but I would like to be more organized about it next year and come home with even more ribbons. :)

If you are new to gardening, and looking for some book recommendations, I put together a short review for each of the books that I have in my reading stack. Each book in my stack is great, and they cover a variety of topics.

Starting from the bottom, the Sunset Western Garden Book is one that I have had for years. This copy used to belong to my grandmother, and it was given to me after she passed away. At the time, I did not have a flower garden, but I started reading through its’ wide expanse of information and bookmarking pages. If you live on the West Coast, the Sunset garden books are a must-have. Someday I will probably upgrade to a more modern version. :)

Western Garden Book of Edibles This is another great one, with information about pretty much any fruit or vegetable that you can grow here on the West Coast.

Sunset Big Book of Garden Designs You may have noticed a trend…I am a big fan of the Sunset gardening books. :) They are very well tailored to gardening here on the West Coast. I got this book after I planned our front and back gardens, but it has some great ideas if you are planning a complete garden makeover. It gave me some great ideas for the garden I am planning in our downstairs yard. :)

Modern Essentials This is technically not a gardening book, but got thrown into the mix because it is something I am trying to learn more about. This book is wonderful for anyone interested in learning more about using essential oils. I have been using lavender oil and fresh herbs for a variety of things for years, but I recently incorporated a lot more essential oils into our routine, and it is something I absolutely love. I am going to be blogging more about our journey with essential oils soon.

DIY Projects for the Self Sufficient Homeowner This book has some great ideas for projects that I would like my husband to build eventually. :) It has helped me show him step by step instructions for some of the things I would like him to build eventually. Some of the projects I am not 100% sold on, but that is up to personal preference. For example, we don’t like the idea of planting edibles in plastic containers that may not necessarily be rated as food safe (we try not to use plastic much at all to be honest). I was also disappointed that the book got me excited to try to build a solar food dehydrator, only to later realize that we do not live in a climate that is conducive to solar food dehydrating (so then I immediately ordered this electric dehydrator for preserving). Otherwise, the book has some really great projects!

Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening This book is my favorite out of all of my gardening books, hands down. It has such a wealth of information, and covers so many topics. It has monthly checklists that I am determined to actually go through each month from now on. This book usually sits on my nightstand, next to my Bible. :)

Mini Farming This book has great in-depth information about various home farming methods, and detailed information about the benefits to the various methods. Reading this book has motivated me to get more precise with my vegetable planting in our raised beds. I definitely recommend this book if you are interested in growing your own produce.

The Backyard Homestead This book packs in a ton of information about edible gardening with limited space. It includes information about warm and cool season planting, proper soil preparation, how to cultivate a variety of types of fruit and vegetables, pruning guides, sample garden designs, preserving information, and lots more. The sample garden designs are one of my favorite parts of this book, and we drew inspiration from this when we did our first round of planting with fruit trees when we first bought our house.

The City Homesteader This book is a must-have for those with limited space who want to get started with edible gardening. The first few chapters are great for those who are new to gardening, covering all of the basics, and the later chapters have more detailed ideas even seasoned gardeners will appreciate. It gives a breakdown on which fruits and vegetables are well-suited for growing in a small space and which are not. It also gives great step-by-step instructions for a variety of projects that will help you live more self-sufficiently and Eco-friendly. There are chapters on beekeeping, raising livestock in a small yard, making cheese and yogurt, building a root cellar for storing produce, and more. There is even a chapter on foraging for wild foods which has become so popular lately. :)

Flower Gardening Secrets This is another older book that used to belong to my grandmother. It has some great, time-tested tips and techniques that will get you on your way to growing a beautiful flower garden.

Soil Mates This one is not pictured, but it is one I always keep on hand during planting time. It has cute little drawings of vegetables, and my son loves looking at this book. I assume I couldn’t find it at the moment because he probably ran off with it again. :) The book may read as a bit silly at first (kind of like a soap opera for vegetables), but it really carries some very useful information about what vegetables are good near each other, and what to plant far away from each other.

If you enjoyed my book reviews and would like to order any of these books, please consider purchasing through the links provided. The price is the same as if you went through the main Amazon.com homepage, but they are affiliate links, which means ordering through those links helps keep this blog running!

My $20 Greenhouse/Shed Makeover & Garden Updates

Recently, my husband and I sat down and went through and organized our lists of projects that still need to be completed for our house. We prioritized things into URGENT, high priority, medium priority, and low priority. One of the things on my list was that I wanted a new greenhouse (made out of the recycled windows that I have been collecting), and I wanted a cuter garden shed. Once I realized that we literally have over 50 items on our project to-do list, and those two fell pretty low on the list, I decided it was time to be happy with what I have for now, and make the best of them. Eventually we will probably get around to building my dream greenhouse, but in the meantime, I am happy with my little popup greenhouse. I made the inside much better which helps!

The greenhouse and shed are in our downstairs yard, which is actually a secondary lot joined to our property. You can see the before pictures here. My little plastic raised beds have been moved around a few times since we moved here, but I think I am finally settled on their location. I am addicted to finding free stuff from Craigslist that I can upcycle into something cute for the garden, and the bench and bench cushion below were some great Craigslist finds. :) The bench looked awful when we got it (the previous owners left their kids alone with some paint samples and the kids went wild on the poor bench), but a can of spray paint and it is now a cozy little area under the apricot tree. When we moved in, you actually couldn’t even see that poor little tree because it was being strangled by vines! I am so proud to have rescued it. :)
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The metal shed was a rusty eyesore. I had some leftover paint from when I painted our patio furniture, so I decided to start painting the shed. The only thing I bought for this greenhouse/shed makeover was a couple of extra cans of spray paint and suddenly they are both much better! We also recently got a second compost tumbler (found here). We loved the first one so much, and realized now that there are three of us, we are generating a whole lot more food scraps! The one bin was getting a bit overwhelmed so it is nice to have two now. We are also in the process of putting in another large wooden raised bed in this downstairs area (getting dirt down there is a tedious process and my husband is building a ramp which I need anyway).
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Inside the greenhouse is my favorite part of the transformation. I had lots of cute decor things that I have made for photoshoots over the years, and have been storing them away in my office. I typically hate reusing the same props over and over, but didn’t want to get rid of a lot of these things since I worked hard on them. I couldn’t find a spot in our house for everything, but they made the perfect (free!) decorations for my little greenhouse!
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I realized that my pitcher plant was not doing well because apparently you are only supposed to water it with distilled or rain water! Ooops! It is getting some love in the greenhouse for now while it recouperates. I also gave it a spray with some watered down fertilizer. The other plants on the shelf rack are things that need some extra love (after getting trampled by my son for example), or things I have recently propagated. :)
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I made a pathway out of pieces of slate that were removed elsewhere in the backyard. In case you are curious (since people always ask me), you can find his cute moccasins here.
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A little chandelier makes everything better.Β  :)
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My ferns and some other plants are not always in here, but they needed a bit of extra TLC after being at the fair all week. They came home fine, but just a little sad and droopy after being in a cold, air-conditioned building all week.
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The little star lights are battery operated string lights I got at Ikea many years ago. When my husband saw them, he got upset thinking I was trying to hint that I needed electricity in there. I assured him they were just for decoration, and any time it is dark, I won’t be in the greenhouse because I close it up at night. :)
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My little baby staghorn fern won 2nd place at the fair, even up against big huge ones! :) It is a very happy, healthy little guy.
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I am addicted to propagating new plants from cuttings. I love having lots of plants and making more for free is the best! I have found great results with starting cuttings dipped in rooting hormone, then placed in a jar of water, and then transitioning them to moist potting soil once they have roots established.
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This thermometer is the best since it also gives humidity percentage. So important to keep an eye on the humidity levels in a greenhouse. You can find it here.
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I couldn’t get Edison to look at the camera today. He fell again and got another nasty cut right above his eye and he is quite upset about it. He has been sad when he sees himself in the mirror.aliciainwonderlandblog

I cleared out all of my lawn care tools, which left me some room in the shed to get organized! Most of the shed is actually taken up by my husband’s stuff, but now I have my own little organized corner. :) I have been having a hard time with the wildlife chewing through my bags of fertilizer, so I got this dresser to stash my bags (the dresser was another free Craigslist find!).
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Our raised beds are coming along, even though they got a really late start this year. I have recycled doors placed at the ends of the raised beds for now (to keep the dogs out), but they will be going up soon and make the area look more our style. :)
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My cucumbers and peppers have not been doing as well as I would have expected. They have consistently perfect moisture, no signs of disease, perfect soil fertility, full sun, and yet they were struggling. I finally figured out the problem (besides the fact that they were planted so late in the season). The darn Japanese beetles have been burrowing under the soil and munching on the roots of my veggies. I just sprayed everything with neem oil which should help deter them, and also gave the plants a folliar treatment of an organic fish/kelp emulsion to help perk them up.
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My husband keeps getting frustrated that I planted the raised beds “so sparse”. I assured him that lots more will be poking through soon. ;) I filled up all of the extra spaces with carrot and beet seeds.aliciainwonderlandblog aliciainwonderlandblog
Our son is a tomato fiend. He knows exactly when to grab the tomatoes too. I can guarantee that he will find this one tomorrow.
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I can’t wait for this guy to ripen. :)
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I planted tons of corn seeds very late in the game. It will be an experiment to see how they do. :)
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This is another one of my mystery squash plants that came from the compost in the flower beds. This was the only transplant survivor. I am so curious to see what kind of squash comes from this one. :)
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My monster squash plant is starting to try to take over the whole flower garden! That is just ONE squash plant!
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After my recent miscarriage, I cut all the roses in the garden and put them where we buried that tiny little baby. The garden seemed sad for quite some time after that. It finally started getting blooms again, and just in time for the last week of the fair. My flowers won a few ribbons (more on that in another post soon).
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Remember my post about the wasp problem and disease on this rose bush? The rose bush is doing much better thanks to diligent application of neem oil, and the wasp problem is gone thanks to the Waspinators! I was very skeptical but it seems to be keeping the wasps away!
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Last but not least, it is time to start seeds already for the fall/winter! I am starting snapdragons, stock, violas, pansies, and calendula for flowers. For veggies, I am starting lots of cool season foods like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccoli raab, cauliflower, onions and leeks. I will also be planting lots of carrots, beets, radishes, kale, mustard, and other root vegetables and leafy greens straight into the raised beds in the downstairs garden. I use the raised beds downstairs for cool season plants since it has a cooler microclimate down there thanks to the pine trees and the way the ocean breeze comes through there (our upstairs back yard stays much hotter year-round because of the way the concrete retaining walls block the breeze).

I used to start seeds indoors, but we don’t have any sunny windows in this house where I can set up flats of seeds. Also, the last time I started seeds indoors at our old house, our pets got to the sprouts in the middle of the night and had a party. I woke up one morning and found baby veggies and dirt all over our living room. Not a fun day. I am trying out seed starting with these portable little greenhouses (found here). I have them in our patio, under the pergola for now, but like the fact that I can easily move them around if I need to. I have been closing them in the late afternoon to try to keep the temperature fairly even. I am hoping this works out! I have a variety of seed starting trays, but I like these best. Also, make sure you always use organic seed starting soil for starting seeds, not potting soil (here’s a great option).
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When Did it Become Okay to Photograph Strangers’ Children Without Permission?

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In the past few weeks, we have gone to the Orange County Fair a couple of times (other than when I was dropping off/picking up my gardening entries). I noticed on the OC Fair website that they are having a “Many Faces of the Fair” photo contest. Since it is only open to amateur photographers, I am not eligible to enter, but I of course still want to get photographs of my own child when we have been at the fair.

One evening, my husband, my son and I were in the area of the fair with the little kid goats. My son had taken a particular liking to one of the kid goats in particular a couple of days prior, and I wanted to get some photos of him interacting with the little goats. As Edison was looking through the fence at the goats, a young woman with a film camera approached us and said to herself, “Oh he would make a good entry!”. She then stepped right in front of me, and tried to take photos of my son. Keep in mind that I was not taking pictures of him with my cell phone either…I was using my Canon 5D Mark III and one of my Canon L lenses. I’m definitely not just playing around when I am taking a picture with my big camera.

The woman did not respond or acknowledge my polite round of “excuse me, excuse me”, so I finally got to the point where I had to nudge her out of the way and tell her to get away from my child. I had already set up for this shot, and I was not about to let some rude woman prevent me from getting the photo above. The woman seemed to have no comprehension that what she had done was incredibly rude. Even if I had not been just about to take my own photo, what makes her think it is socially acceptable to just barge up to us, invade our personal space, and photograph our toddler without our permission? I understand that technically by being in a public space, you acknowledge that you may be photographed, but there is a difference between what is legally allowed and what is common courtesy. Common courtesy dictates that you would ask the parents’ permission before photographing their child, and explain why you would like a photo of their child in the first place.

My husband and I both agree that we do not want strangers taking our child’s photo. It may seem like a strange policy since I post so many photos of him online, but those are my photos. If someone were to do something with a photo that I have taken, I could have my attorneys pursue the matter. If someone does something strange (such an an internet meme, etc.) with a photo of our son that I have not taken, we have no legal recourse. Another evening, we were in the barn at the fair with all of the various children’s activities. My dad was playing with Edison in one of the booths, and two women starting trying desperately to take his photo. My husband kept trying to get in their way and block them from taking a photo. After I made it clear that we do not like strangers taking our child’s photo, the two women continued to follow us around the fair, trying to sneak photos of him. The whole experience was beyond upsetting.
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Once we finally lost those two women in the crowd, we started to relax a bit and brought Edison back to that barn to have some more play time since his playing got cut short. Just when we did, a man approached us and asked if he could take our son’s photo. We appreciated that he was the only person that had the common courtesy to ask, but when my husband politely told him no, the man threw a tantrum that would rival any toddler’s worst tantrum.
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What has happened with our society that no one seems to have manners or common courtesy anymore? If a parent does not want a stranger photographing their child, that is their prerogative as parents. Just because you are in a public place does not give anyone the right to throw a fit ifΒ a parent will not give permission to take their child’s photo. Our society has become so photo and media obsessed that it has not only ruined the photography industry, but it has also stripped away the rules of common decency that should go along with taking a photo.

When I was starting out with photography back in high school, I did a lot of photojournalistic work at community service events. Before I photographed people, I always carefully approached them, asked their permission to photograph them (or their children) at some point throughout the day, and explained that I may use their photo in a competition at the end of the year. I was not getting paid for that work but I still tried to behave as a professional would behave. It seems that most of the amateur photographers today seem to have no sense of what is polite or socially acceptable. All they care about is getting the shot.

Orange County Fair, I strongly urge you (and other county fairs as well) in the future to add some kind of common sense guidelines for your on-site photography contests. I don’t in any way blame the OC Fair for the experience (they can do a bag check at the gates but it is kind of impossible to do a manners/common sense check). Unfortunately we live in a culture where manners and proper etiquette are no longer valued the way they used to be. Sadly, the whole experience left us unhappy and stressed out as parents. We had planned to return to the fair a few more times before the end of the season, but decided that the only time we would be going back this year would be to pick up my garden entries and ribbons. We wanted to be able to relax and enjoy the fair as a family, but thanks to the obnoxious participants of that photo contest, we felt we were unable to do so. Photographers, both amateur and professional…try to be courteous when you are out there in the world with your camera. When one of you is rude and inconsiderate, you make all of us photographers look bad.

Weekly Dose of Edison: Edison and the Giant Squash

When I was pregnant with our son two years ago, I attended the Orange County Fair for the first time. I was blown away by all of the giant fruit and vegetables that home gardeners entered into the fair. I was so excited to see so many competitions for gardeners. There are plenty of photography and art competitions everywhere, but gardening competitions seem pretty rare around here. I was determined to enter a giant vegetable in the fair the next year. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything to enter last year after 11 months of pregnancy and post-partum bed rest. We went to the fair last year and had fun, but I was pretty disappointed that I wasn’t prepared to enter the competitions yet.

This year, our backyard garden remodel took way longer than we expected. My new vegetable beds did not get installed until the very end, leaving me no time to prepare any vegetables to enter into the fair. I was quite disappointed, until I noticed that some vegetables were sprouting up as volunteers from the homemade compost that I mixed into the flower beds. There was one baby squash plant in particular that I could tell was going to grow quite large, so I let it grow and nurtured the little surprise planting. As luck would have it, that little surprise ended up growing my biggest squash to date. I started getting excited once I realized I may have a good entry for the fair.

The night before I was planning to bring my squash to the fair, I started reading online about winners of largest squash competitions. I read that there is a man on the east coast who regularly grows 1000+ pound squashes. My “little” 10 pound squash suddenly felt inadequate, and I considered not bringing it at all. In the end, I figured I may as well bring it because even if it was not the world’s biggest squash, it was the biggest one that I have grown in the 30+ years since I started gardening, and I figured that was something worth celebrating.

I usually spend my early mornings working in the garden, before our son wakes up. I get up at sunrise and tend to the garden, hang clothes and diapers on the clothesline, etc. It is my peaceful time of the day. The garden in the early morning hours is my favorite.

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Edison is thankfully a late sleeper. He was not initially very thrilled that I pulled him out of bed, but once he realized it was for pictures, he was quite cooperative. :) Apparently he thought that we were about to cook this squash since I finally cut it off the plant, so he got his “cooking utensils” ready!
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Then he started talking to the squash and petting it. Silly boy.
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I tried to get another angle with my camera….No, Mommy! No standing on chairs!
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So then I was quite surprised to read, not only did my “little” squash win first place as biggest squash, it also won Division Winner for the whole squash category! I was beyond honored and excited. Not bad for my first time entering a gardening competition, right? :)
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My squash’s ribbons motivated me to get myself in gear and enter a few more items for the last week of competition for the fair. More on that coming to the blog next week!

Weekly Dose of Edison: Happy Accidents

Sometimes my favorite pictures are the ones that are not planned. I have done several photoshoots in my studio with babies in old vintage buckets, and I always wanted to do one in our garden with our son actually in a bath with bubbles. Unfortunately, when he was a little baby, our backyard was kind of a disaster after months of neglect thanks to my difficult pregnancy. I didn’t get the pictures I had envisioned, and I eventually put them out of my mind. Then one day recently, my husband and I were trying to clean up the mess that our fig tree was making in the backyard. My husband asked me to go get a bucket of soapy water. As soon as I laid it down, our little man decided that now was the perfect time to get those photos I had wanted months ago. Edison hopped into the bucket on his own accord and started posing. I guess he remembered it from in my studio and thought it was photoshoot time! Of course I immediately ran to go grab my big camera. This little guy sure knows how to make his mommy happy. :)

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At first I considered removing all of the dirt and grime from his face when I was processing these photos, then I decided to leave it. If it had been a “real” photoshoot for a client, I would have of course removed it. However since this was a spur of the moment thing with my own son, I decided I kind of like his dirty little face in the photos. Dirty face and messy hair after helping me in the garden…a perfect example of his sweet little personality. :)
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The funniest part of this impromptu shoot is that I happened to set the bucket in front of my “happy accident” squash plant, which ended up being a big prize winner at the county fair! The whole story on that will be coming to the blog next week. :)
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Edison loves helping me wash things. He helps me load laundry every day, and always wishes he could help with the dishes. Since he wants to clean things so badly, I made him some little sponges in different shapes that he uses in his water table with some soap bubbles. I don’t like when he “washes” his books, but it cracked me up when he suddenly pulled one of his little sponges out of the tub. I did not even realize he brought it in with him!
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Trying to give the elephant statue kisses!
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These ones were after I told him it was getting cold and it was time to come out of the water. :)
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Maybe if she can’t see me, I won’t have to get out!
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Recently, I took our little dog Stella to go get her follow-up vaccines at the vet. She did fine the first time but felt kind of under the weather with the second round. Since she was a rescue, we do not have too much medical history on her so we have to watch her closely after the vaccines. She was particularly mopy that evening, and our three boys were trying their hardest to cheer her up. I wish our other cat Pearl would join in on the fun with them (she is still afraid of Edison), but I am pretty darn happy with a few photos of these four all playing together! Another totally unplanned, happy accident photo opportunity that ended up being some of my favorite photos. :)
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