Sunday, October 31, 2010

Catchin' Up

Ok. It's been way too long. So much has happened since March. I've really neglected making this a baby book for Hana, but I guess it's never too late to catch up.

Let's see... we spent Spring Break visiting Grandma and Grandpa in California.

We took the kitties and all of their medications along and everything went well for them. Hana got some kind of unknown infection and ended up in urgent care with IV antibiotics for part of the trip.

We still had a great seeing friends and family in LA and SD.

I wrapped up my St. Paul schools job in June and continued with WCCO-TV through the summer. However, for those who don't already know, I left the station in September to start my student teaching. I've just finished up the preschool practicum and I'm starting seven weeks doing home visits with the birth to three program. I will be licensed as an early childhood special education teacher by mid-December. Yay!

Getting back to the catch up... Hana had a great summer. She and Daddy spent a lot of time at Cascade Bay water park while Mommy was at summer school at St. Thomas. She also played in the parks and went to visit her aunts and uncles in Detroit Lakes. We had a fun reunion with Uncle Dave and his family in August. We also attended the SOFT conference in Sioux Falls and released balloons for Mieko.

Hana started full-time daycare in the fall. She seems to be enjoying it, although she was kind of the class bully at first. She has since learned more about getting along with others (we hope). Hana remains a very active child. She loves running, climbing and jumping. We had been concerned about her speech development, but that seems to be improving. When she hit about 20-22 months she started saying many more single words. By then, she had about a hundred words. When she was 18 months, she was really only saying about three words. Now, she is putting two and three words together and expressing her wants and needs pretty well. Her favorite phrase this weekend was "Wow, whas dat?" Hana is a happy girl most of the time. She is also quite stubborn and knows how to throw a two-year-old fit.

Hana had her second birthday party at the Minnesota Children's Museum. She enjoyed the cake and presents and running around the party room. Then, everyone found their favorite thing to do at the museum. Hana also had her first haircut a couple of weeks before her birthday. The sucker got her through the whole experience.

At Hana's 2 year check-up , she weighed 27.2 pounds (57%) and was 34.1 inches tall (85%). We are fortunate she's a healthy girl, although several new bugs at daycare caused some problems.
Our doctor said kids are usually sick 21 of the first 28 days in a new daycare. I had no idea! But, daycare has been great for Hana's socialization and development. She's singing songs and reciting the alphabet. She can also count to 14. It's not all daycare. Daddy reads with her everyday, which is one of her favorite activities.

Shawn has been very busy with his position as secondary Vice-President of the Osseo Teachers' Union. He's also teaching both Sophomore and Junior English this year. I have a new found respect for all teachers after my first classroom experience as a student teacher. I had no idea how much work and energy it takes to keep everything running smoothly and meet everyone's educational needs.

Whew! I think that wraps up what we've been doing for the past several months. Hana enjoyed her first door-t0-door trick or treating experience. Garrison Keillor even gave her some M&Ms. But, she was a little scared of him and almost all the other adults in costume. Our little sharky sure was happy with the candy!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Darcy Pohland... the great adventurer

Every time I saw Darcy Pohland roll into the newsroom with her big smile, it brightened my day. She would usually have a funny story to tell and was full of enthusiasm. I loved catching up with her every week. Everyone loved Darcy. She was funny, compassionate, and just a genuinely caring person. She was real. She always told you what she thought, but also had a kind word for everyone. We all wanted to be around Darcy and share in her zest for life. But, I had another incentive. Darcy got it. She understood better than anyone what disability means. She was always so supportive of Mieko. She knew so well how fragile life as we know it can be. She always said just the right thing. She understood and she cared.

Darcy accomplished so much without wanting recognition. She showed disability didn't have to keep you back. Though life as a reporter in a wheelchair wasn't easy, she didn't let it keep her from doing what she loved. She told me about the days she had to suffer out in the cold to get her work done because she couldn't get her chair into the live trucks. Sometimes she couldn't even get to interviews because the homes or buildings weren't accessible. Darcy was a straight talker. She wouldn't sugar coat things, but she always chose to be positive. That's how she made it. She didn't have to tout that she had overcome so much, she just did.

I really thought she could do anything. Recently, I was amazed at her composure during her mother's funeral service. She got up in front of everyone and spoke joyfully of her mother without missing a beat. I will never forget what she said to me after the service. I told her what an incredible job she did talking during such an emotional time. In comparison, I couldn't say more than "thank you" at Mieko's service. She said, "Well, that was different. I had my mom my whole life." No matter what she was going through, Darcy made you feel important and loved.

I'm still having a difficult time realizing that I won't see her rolling through the newsroom again, that I won't hear her laugh or the excitement in her voice when she talks about a game, story or show. She made all of our lives brighter with her sense of humor and sensitivity. I only knew Darcy for a short time compared to other friends and colleagues, but she taught me so much. Hellen Keller said "Life is either a great adventure or nothing". I'm so thankful to have been a small part of Darcy's adventure. I only wish it would have lasted much longer.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Switching Channels...temporarily

I started a new (temporary) job as a long term substitute special education teacher last week. I'm doing home visits for children from birth to age 3 years in the St. Paul School District. I'm filling-in for a teacher on maternity leave, so I'm very fortunate WCCO-TV has allowed me to take a leave through mid-Arpil. I'll be back doing the t.v. reporting thing 3 days a week after that.

For those who didn't know, I'm working on a licensure/Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of St. Thomas. I'm a little more than halfway through, which means I could have a license by this time next year. I learned so much from Mieko and my experience with special education that this seemed the right thing to do. Mieko and all of the other kids I saw at Rondo School showed me every child has potential. I can't think of many things that could be more rewarding than helping a child overcome obstacles to live a better life.

After my first week of home visits, I realized that it's not that much different from reporting. I'm meeting new people from all walks of life, learning about them, and compiling and processing a lot of information. I've never had a "desk job" and I think this is going to suit me well. Of course,the goal is entirely different. I love playing with the babies and toddlers, but I still have a great deal to learn. Luckily, I have a supportive team to help me and I know several of the other teachers and therapists who took care of Mieko. In many ways, it feels like going home.

In other news... Hana had her 15 month check-up. She now weighs 22 pounds 8 ounces and is 30.5 inches long. She still doesn't have many words, but uses "no" and "uh-oh" pretty liberally. She's also starting to share toys and bring books to us. It's very cool to watch her hit milestones as I'm studying child development. Hana has become very good at climbing up stairs and can walk down stairs while holding the railing. She's just started having some separation anxiety, but it usually doesn't last long. Hana really gets scared by "Tracy the Talking Tree" at the Rainforest Cafe. I think she left a mark on Daddy's ears.

The only concern we've had lately is with her blood sugar. She sometimes shakes , especially her hands, so we had her blood sugar tested. It was low, so we started testing her at home. It's the same kit diabetics use, but low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is the opposite of diabetes. So far, she hasn't had any low readings. We hope it was all a fluke.

Luckily, we've been able to rearrange all of Hana's classes, so we're still going to baby ballroom, ECFE, and music. We're also enjoying weekends off together. Though Mommy and Hana don't get to play as much during the week, Hana is spending more time with her cousins. Hopefully, they won't eat her ;) They are great. As you can see, they love entertaining her. So, here we go on the next big adventure. So far, so good.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Not the Biggest , But Still a Loser

So, I've lost about 25 pounds since September. Since people have asked, I thought I'd blog about how I did it. One of my co-workers lost 40 pounds on the Flat Belly Diet last year. Another friend of mine, a woman, lost 30 pounds. Both have kept it off, but basically changed their eating habits for life.
The photo above was from last August. I didn't start this Flat Bely thing thinking I was going to make a lifelong change, or I probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere. But, I have to say it's not that bad and I will probably keep going in some fashion. Here's the deal:

Four meals of 400 calories.
Eat every 4 hours during the day.
Eat a monounsaturated fat (MUFA) with every meal
Most meals have a moderate amount of protein and starch and larger portion of vegetables or fruits

The diet also advocates exercise, but does not dictate what to do. I work out 3-5 times a week. I do a half hour of cardio each time and weights at least 3 of the days. I make sure I have a fun book with me that I only allow myself to read at the gym. Right now it's Can you Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella. You can see why I feel I need to be in shape anyway... Hana never stops moving.

The diet has been harder than the exercise, especially in the beginning. I was really, really hungry the first couple of weeks. But, now I'm accustomed to eating smaller meals and more often. I try to drink a lot of tea or snack on veggies and fruit, when I just need something. The calorie count is designed for a woman who is about 5 foot 4, so my co-worker modified his portions. I'm not sure if I buy the book's theory that MUFA's fight belly fat, but I do like those foods (nuts, avocados, olives, peanut butter) and they help me feel more full.

The diet does take some pre-planning, but you get used to it. I carry snacks with me and make my lunch. That's a pretty big deal, since I loved going out to lunch during work. Cooking can be a pain, but I've tried to streamline it with my own frozen meal components. I freeze my small portions of ground turkey when I get home from the store. I also buy individually packaged chicken breasts and fish that I freeze as well. I throw my protein together with some frozen or fresh veggies and some rice, tortilla, or pasta. I keep half cup portions of cooked rice in the freezer too. There are a ton of recipes in the Flat Belly Diet book and cookbook. I used some of the ideas, but I really haven't tried the recipes. They do look tasty. So, that's my story. I've made to 129 pounds. I want to lose about ten more pounds and then I'll be the weight I was when I got married in 1998. Wish me luck.

Things I really like:
Crafty Givers: Here's a link to the etsy store of crafters donating to Doctors Without Borders for Haiti Relief. If you're on ravelry, there are a lot of designers there doing the same. Thanks to my friend vegancraftastic for sharing all this. She has more info on her blog.

Arc Value Village thrift stores. I like all thrift stores, but Arc is one of my favorite organizations as well. They recently opened a store on the east side of St. Paul and I don't think a lot of people know it's there. It's big and bright with a lot of room. There are always deals. At the Brooklyn Center store, my friend found a sweater she saw at Nieman Marcus a few years ago for about $300 for less than 10 bucks.

Podcasts: This is how I catch up with my favorite NPR shows like Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, This American Life, and Radio Lab. I also listen to a variety of knitting podcasts. Don't laugh, doesn't it make sense to listen while you're doing something with your hands? If you didn't know, one of my favorite radio stations the Current 89.3 has a free download of the day as well as a review show called Musicheads. Good way to keep up with the latest music.

I've heard people talking about:
Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets. Some parents I know are giving it a big thumbs up. They have products for adults too.

Things I've learned recently:
How to join a sweater as you knit. Pretty cool technique I found in Lily Chin's Knitting Tips and Tricks. I also darned some socks after watching a youtube video. They didnt' look so pretty, but I guess it did the job. I wasn't about to let my handknit socks go down without a fight. After all, I spent probably 16-20 hours making each pair.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Christmas in January

We celebrated Christmas with family a little late this year because a blizzard kept the Fargoans off the roads. But, we had the added bonus of Auntie Sherry and Cousin Hailey joining us from the Milwaukee area when we got together a week later.

As you can see, it was a Rock Band Christmas. The kids (big and little) had a great time jamming together.

Hana enjoyed all the attention, but didn't quite understand the present opening ritual. Next year should be much different. She received many wonderful books, clothes, and toys from relatives and a cool easel from Santa.

Hana is still more interested in walking and climbing, but at times she shows interest in scribbling. She's also starting to put objects inside of things. This is, however, unfortunate when when she hides her sippy cup of milk.

I'm going to try to blog more often this year (let's see) and discuss the various things I learn about and run across, which will probably be mostly parenting and craft related. If you're interested in WCCO-TV news stuff, you can follow me on twitter (mnishi) or on facebook (Maya Nishikawa Wcco) or go to this link.

Things I really like:
18 year-old balsamic vinegar. I found an olive oil store in Mendota Heights called the Olive Grove just before the holidays. You can taste all of their various olive oils and other specialty oils and vinegars. They will bottle what you choose. It's a lot of fun to try out all of the oils and the traditional balsamic (18 years-old) is awesome. I put it on everything from bread to chicken and broccoli. It tastes like a very sweet wine. I'd eat cardboard with this stuff.

Things I learned recently:
Norwegian Purling: I doubted my friend Jen when she said how fast this technique is, but once you get the hang of it, it's really speedy. Check out this youtube video.

If an adult tooth gets knocked out, rinse it with liquid (preferably saline or something with salt like gatorade) and put it back in as soon as possible. Leaving it out for half an hour will mean no chance of re-attaching it. This came from a dentist who visited our ECFE class.

If you sell stuff on, they'll charge 15% commission plus a sale closing charge. Be careful you don't sign up for a merchant account without realizing they will charge you $40

Things I hear people talking about:
Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman Good advice or more hype?
A year's worth of slow cooker recipes at

What's off/on the needles:
Lots of gifts:

Just finished four doggie sweaters for Christmas from The Gift Knitter, various cat themed dishcloths, and fingerless mitts (Humanity pattern available for free on for a cold co-worker.

Next up: more baby knitting and finishing the Central Park Hoodie I started two years ago.