July 31, 2007

Baby Diaper Usage, Month Two

Time for a diaper report! We went through 184 diapers this month, if I include what I estimate we'll use for the rest of today. Henry wears size 1 diapers now, which are sold 56 diapers in a package for $5.75 (we use the Target brand). That's 10.27 cents per diaper, and we went through 184, so that's $18.90 to put him in disposable diapers for a month between the ages of 1 month and 2 months old.

It's less expensive than last month, because last month he wore the newborn size, and the newborn diapers are more expensive per diaper.

Is he TWO MONTHS OLD? Yikes.

Will no one return this child's stolen eyebrows?

July 29, 2007

First (and Perhaps Last--We'll See) Day of Running

Day One of the Couch to 5K running program, and I am off to a good start. It's three days a week, so you wouldn't HAVE to start this very day, but I did and I'm glad because it's nicer to have six days to do two more days of exercise than having six days to do three more. Um, duh.

So, here is my report:

Good: I did it, rather than finking out before even doing it one single time, which is what I'd feared might happen.

Bad: The whole "doing it" part.

Good: It was a good idea to bring Rob and William, because it was more like doing a difficult game: "Okay, now we run for 60 seconds! Okay, now walk for 90!" I think if I'd gone out by myself, I would have turned around after a few minutes and said forget this shit.

Bad: Not only did I have to keep my own motivation up, I had to keep THEIRS up. "Come on, you can do it! Come on, keep running!"

Bad: Also, they kept wanting to TALK when I was working on DYING. "How many more seconds?" they'd ask again and again during the minute-long runnings, while I was wondering if I should be trying to draw another breath or just lying down and skipping the whole breathing thing entirely. And then Rob would want to start complicated conversations: "How many calories do we eat in a day? And how many calories does this burn? So how many more do I have to eat when I run like this? And what percentage of..." Me: "Let's ... *gasp* ... talk ... *gag* ... later ... *pant pant*"

Good: The way Rob and William struggled and complained tells me they could really use the exercise too.

Bad: Aesthetic considerations aside, can it really be good for me to JIGGLE that much?

Bad: I mean seriously, my FAT hurts more than my muscles do.

Good: Doing it even ONE TIME makes me feel like I'm starting on the road to better health.

Bad: That road sucks, and is full of alligators and mud and burrs and taxes and dog poop.

Good: After running, I no longer felt like eating the Hershey bar that was waiting for me.

Bad: Nor did I feel like continuing to live. And when the will to live returned, so did the will to eat the Hershey bar.

Good: I shower in the evenings usually anyway, so I showered early (while Paul had to take care of the kids) instead of at my usual time (when it cuts into my kid-free evening).

Bad: Even after the cool refreshing shower, I still felt--and looked--as if something had stepped on me.

Good: With just one session of running, I have learned things about myself and about my body.

Bad: Those things are that I hate exercise, that I hate the WHOLE EXERCISE THING--the changing in and out of clothes, the sweating, the need to shower afterward, the stretching, the warming up and cooling down, ALL of it. Hate! it!


So, how about you? Did anyone do it today? It seems as if we ought to keep a tally or something: people who have done one session, people who have done two sessions--I won't bother to continue that sentence until we know if we even need to go on.

July 28, 2007

Hi! I'm Posting Again!

I filled my prescription for the mini-pill, so the experiment starts tomorrow. You'll have to let me know if I seem crazier or crabbier than usual.

Perhaps you are wondering, "Why the rush to fill it? Why the very first Sunday after seeing the OB?" Well, when Paul was headed for the grocery store, I asked him to bring me a pint of Dove "Give in to Mint" ice cream if it was still on sale--and he came home with four pints.

Couch to 5K Eve

So. Hey. Do you realize that tomorrow is the first day of the first week of the running program we're supposedly doing? I feel partly excited (something new! maybe slimming and energizing!), and partly heavy with dread (maybe unpleasant and exhausting! maybe yet another failure in the quest for health and fitness!).

The shopping part is fun, though. I have some nearly new all-purpose exercise shoes from the last time I kidded myself that I was going to exercise and I'm going to start off with those--but then if I do this for "awhile" (two weeks? three? a month?) I'll buy some running shoes. But Rob and William had only slip-on shoes, so they needed something they could run in, and they need that for the new school year anyway. Today we went to Target (*choir of angels sound effect*) and I found a pair for Rob at 50% off and a pair for William at 75% off. "Woo," and also: "hoo."

Also, we bought a pedometer. We don't NEED one, but....well, it's a fun toy. And Rob learned that "10,000 Steps A Day" thing at school, so he is wildly enthusiastic about it and asked if he could have his own pedometer as a Christmas present, and then William asked if he could have one for Christmas too. That is a pitiful request. If this one seems good (it was $6-something, and maybe it'll be craptastic and we'll need one that costs a little more than that), I'm going to buy one for each of them.

I can already tell that this particular pedometer is not going to work for finding out how many steps I walk in a typical day back and forth between the recliner and the brownies: at around 200 steps I sat down for awhile, and when I got up it was over 300. I thought it was an anomaly, but then I went down to cycle the laundry, and when I looked again afterward it was over 500. Hmm.

July 27, 2007

"What Did You DO All Day?"

I've been thinking about Devan, whose husband is in trouble right now for seeing dishes in the sink and asking her, "What did you DO all day?" Devan has a toddler and a newborn. Devan's husband still has all his parts attached, but it may be just a matter of time.

What I'VE been doing all day is thinking about that question. I think of it as living on the list of questions and comments that are never under any circumstances okay to use. It doesn't seem as if we would have to come out and say that these were Forbidden; it seems like at this point it would be understood by everyone in the entire human race that these are the things you say right before rotten produce starts flying through the air toward your face. And yet no.

So for the sake of those who are still struggling with this, claiming angrily not to be mind-readers, I think we should compose a cheat sheet: a list of all the things no one should ever, ever say. I've made a start on it:
  1. What did you DO all day?
  2. I work all day.
  3. Is that on your diet?
  4. Have you been putting on weight?
  5. Sure, you could stand to lose a few pounds.
  6. Is that what you're wearing?
  7. This isn't rocket science.
  8. I hope we can still be friends.
  9. I love you, I'm just not "in love" with you.
  10. I have a new co-worker--younger than us, but she's already had a highly successful career as a porn star! Smart, too! We talked for hours today about [insert boring work problem here] and she was so interested and had such great ideas!

Digging Out of the Madhouse

This morning had a moment so madhouse, I wasn't sure I could pull through it without crying or screaming. The twins were in the tub, and Henry started crying and I realized it was time to nurse him, so I started taking the twins out. It's a little tricky to wrangle them both out by myself, but it's possible. Henry was really working himself up, so I worked fast getting the twins dressed. Then I picked up Henry--and my hand sent me an urgent message that I was not holding a dry, clean baby. He had blown completely through his diaper and outfit, and was sitting in a puddle in his new bouncy seat. And he was screaming so hard, and the bathroom still had pjs and wet towels and bath toys all over it, and I knew I wouldn't be able to clean that up or stain-treat Henry's clothes before he needed to nurse, and I was worried the twins were going to get into the mess on the bouncy seat while I was cleaning up a screaming Henry, and I was still unshowered and wearing my baggy sloppy pajamas which had (1) milk, (2) bath water, and now (3) diaper on them. Not a good moment, is what I'm saying.

Part of my crisis this morning was that the house seemed to have crossed a subtle line between its usual Friendly Squalor and a new state of Unacceptable Horror. In fact, after I decided to see what I could do to improve things, I wandered hopelessly from room to room, near tears, thinking it wasn't even possible to get started. And my mother-in-law is supposedly visiting in October (this is Day 26 of her not telling us she's coming).

But! I got a grip. And I started with the kitchen table, which I have cleaned before on this blog. It doesn't stay clean because we don't eat at it and it's such a handy place to put things. This must change. For one thing, we need to start eating at it. For another thing, I can't stand it the way it is.

Here's the before:


And here's the after:


Hi, table! Long time no etc.!

The tablecloth was ripped in several places, so I threw it out.

July 26, 2007

I'm Never Crabby, Either

Elizabeth in her Never Crabby shirt.


Shelly's Peanut

Jen's L #1

Jen's L #2

Lori's Macy

Staci's Emma

Marie's Marin

Tessie's AD

Did I miss your girl? Sorry--tell me again and I'll add her!

Redux

So--yesterday's post. What I meant to do was vent a little about how hard it is to keep my mouth shut in situations where it would be stupid for me to talk. What I did instead was:
  1. Imply that one of you wrote a blog post that pissed me off
  2. And that probably you do that all the time
  3. And that maybe all the other commenters don't like you either.
  4. Imply that I don't think blogs should be about controversial topics
  5. And that I think people shouldn't discuss things unless they agree
  6. And that what you wrote about _______ was way too controversial.
  7. Imply that we should all go around kissing up to each other all the time
  8. And no one should ever say anything that isn't positive
  9. And that we should all be icky-sweet and no one should say anything bitchy or strong.
  10. Imply that all conflict is bad
  11. And that pleasant, intellectual debate between consenting adults is also bad
  12. And that in a perfect world, all of us would act and think identically.
  13. Imply that I never give my 2 cents' worth on other people's blogs
  14. And that my silence means I disagree
  15. And I'm quietly thinking bad things about you but you'll never know because I won't say it.
  16. Imply that I don't want you to give your 2 cents' worth on my blog
  17. And that if you have in the past, you've totally hurt my feelings and pissed me off
  18. And that if you do it ever again I won't be your best friend anymore.
I is such a awesome communicator! I rocks!

I do often comment if I disagree with something, and I want you to comment even if you're not saying, "You're totally right! I totally agree! Also, I like your shoes!" I think we can disagree and still be friendly. Good thing, too, since there are SO MANY THINGS to disagree about! Including my shoes.

There are some topics, though, that I don't want to talk about anymore, and that's generally when I choose my voluntary dose of STFU. The blog setting wouldn't be right for me anyway: I'm a person who typically leaves a comment and doesn't come back to see who commented after me, so it's not a good place for me to get involved in a heavy debate.

Also--and this is harder to describe--there are certain times when I can feel that my reaction is not good and that I shouldn't talk, that it would not be right for me to talk. Do you know what I mean? Because I've spent about 24 hours trying to think of how to put it, and that's the best I've got. It's just a feeling that tells me I should STFU.

But, silly dears, I was not talking about any of YOU. You are all sweeties, and I'm sure I agree with every word you say. Also, I like your shoes.

July 25, 2007

Maybe a Spoonful of Sugar Would Help

It is so difficult to voluntarily take a dose of STFU. In general, my feeling is that if I don't like what I'm reading on a blog, I should stop reading the blog rather than repeatedly venting my dislike in the comment section. I'm not chained to my computer, eyelids pried open while someone else chooses my reading matter: if I don't like it, I should go away. But oh, sometimes it is so difficult.

There are so many hot issues (religion! politics! parenting!), so many things that make me feel like fighting. I can tell they make other people feel like fighting, too, because of all the comment sections that boil up and over the edge. What's amazing is that any of us get along at all.

I read awhile back that humans are naturally contentious--that if peace were handed to us on a platter, we wouldn't be able to accept it even if we wanted to. Our natural state is to live together in communities, and to fight constantly within that community and also with other communities. My experience with human nature backs this up so far.

This is discouraging. I think I'll take another dose.

July 24, 2007

Birth Control

So it sounds to me like we pretty much all agree that my OB is hoping to get another big fat c-section fee out of me by telling me I'm safe for at least 12 weeks. I got a prescription for the mini-pill, which I'm going to try. I say "try" because from what I've read, a lot of women find it gives them a fast flying kick into the land of crazy--but I'm hoping I luck out and it doesn't happen to me. We'll see. I like how I have to wait four weeks before it renders me safe--and the four weeks doesn't start until I actually fill the prescription, which, who knows when I'll get to the store next, or if I'll remember to fill it while I'm there?

Researchers need to do better on this birth control thing. Right now there are four kinds:
  1. Options used in the heat of the moment.
  2. Options used constantly, medicating the woman even when there isn't a need for it.
  3. Options in which something that looks like a sharp metal insect takes up residence in the woman's uterus.
  4. Options in which someone gets a crucial reproductive organ snipped.
All the options suck. Heat-of-the-moment options are messy and yucky and can cause allergic reactions, and it is difficult to make sensible birth control decisions during the time they need to be made. Constant-medication options can affect a woman's mood, weight, and--hello, helpful!--sex drive, not to mention the crazy gland. Metal-in-the-uterus options make me uncomfortable just thinking about them. Permanent options make me sad just thinking about them.

Obviously it would be nice if, for the hot new birth control option, men could take a turn dealing with the expense and side effects, but I understand researchers are FAR too busy working to increase men's sex drive and hair growth.

July 23, 2007

Coffee: A Midnight Follow-Up

Apparently there is a down side of coffee, which is that I am wide! awake! when I should be sleeping. It isn't as if I drank a whole lot of coffee: I have a 4-cup coffee pot, and I made "3" cups, and the 3 is in quotes because what they call 3 cups will fill a mug once with a little warm-up-your-cup slosh (or, depending on the morning, a little evaporate-into-a-sizzling-stain-on-the-bottom-of-the-pot slosh) left over for later, and that's it. And I am not talking about a huge mega-mug, I am talking about a normal, even smallish mug.

Do I have a mother-in-law story to tell here? Why, yes I do! She likes to talk about how her late husband used to "fib" to the doctor about how much coffee he drank. "He'd say, '3 cups,' and I'd say, 'Those must be MIGHTY BIG CUPS!' He was filling it to the 6-cup mark on our coffee maker every single day!" She tells this anecdote once per visit, but then refers to it again almost daily when she sees me making coffee: "I just keep thinking about Lloyd saying he only drank 3 cups! Ha ha ha." She, of course, is not a coffee drinker. Never could stand the stuff. Never saw the point, either. Why not just go to bed at a decent hour? She just doesn't understand it at all--never has. And the taste! My stars.

I had my OB appointment today. Did you know there could be a POP QUIZ on Kegels? With GRADES? It was like that nightmare where you realize you forgot to attend classes all year and now that you've found the classroom you have to take a test.

The OB says that if I'm breastfeeding exclusively, I'm fine without any birth control at all for at least 12 weeks. But I have five children already, and there is the question of whether I want to bet the farm on a claim made by a guy who earns his money on a per-pregnancy basis.

Perfect Happiness; And, For Contrast, More Talk About Running


If you know of any greater pleasure than sitting alone in a quiet house with a pint of Dove "Vanilla with a Chocolate Soul" ice cream, reading blogs and finding pictures of Erin's and Sam's new babies (congratulations, Erin! congratulations, Sam!), knowing that both the new Harry Potter book and the next disc of Angel are standing by for the next nursing session, then don't tell me--my heart can't take it.

My August copy of Jane magazine (which, by the way, I hear is the last: the magazine has gone under) arrived this weekend, and in it was this:


Is that a sign or what? Oh, well, yes, it's literally a sign. But I mean, is it, you know, a chorus-of-angels type sign? Answer: no. But! A neat coincidence.

I am gradually becoming resigned to the idea that we will be trying the running program. I remind you all that I am almost certain to ditch it, possibly the very first week, so if you're looking for a bellwether (that's the lead sheep; also, a good book by Connie Willis) you'd be better off finding someone else. But if you want someone who did the absolute minimum required to pass gym and after every session got a bag each of Doritos and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to restore precious, precious electrolytes, then join up with me, my friend! And lo, we will pant and curse together! And then partake of delicious restorative substances! And then quit! and hide the receipt for the running shoes! and partake of even more delicious restorative substances, now that our time is not being taken up by that pesky running program!

Speaking of delicious restorative substances, please note that there is NO DIET taking place at this time. I reserve the right to add one later if I start feeling all awesome, but "One horrible torture at a time," that's my philosophy. If I am running, I am also eating pints of Dove ice cream (also if I stop running). The goal right now is only--only--to get the buns off the recliner for a brief session per day. That's IT. Then it's back to the recliner.

I am drinking coffee again! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I was feeling so, so sleepy every day, and finally I got it together enough to get the coffee pot out. (I put it away when I got pregnant. Coffee makes me feel barfy when I'm pregnant, and "being pregnant" already makes me feel as much barfy as I want to feel.) I made some yesterday morning and felt good all day. I drank more this morning (note to self: teach children to make coffee and bring it to me in bed) and feel great again. Yay coffee!

July 21, 2007

Two Questions

Two questions I am not asking Paul this morning, because I don't know how such a conversation would begin:

1) What were you planning to use for birth control, dumbass, if I hadn't pushed you away? When people asked us if we "knew how this kept happening," they were kidding--but now I'm wondering if I need to sit you down for The Talk.

2) Did you seriously think you were going to score in the middle of the night with a nursing mother? You're lucky I didn't leave for a hotel. And that all your parts are still attached.

July 20, 2007

More Info On Running; Plus, First Attempt to Fink Out


I don't know if it's just my RSS thing or everybody's, but this morning I thought I had 157 new posts to read when in fact there were about 6 and all the others were reposts. WTH? Eighteen of them were supposedly mine. Something is on the fritz.

Here is an idea I can get behind: caffeinated Jell-o shots. This leads me to wonder: could other things be caffeinated? Muffins, for example? I suppose it's a little risky with non-liquid things: if the caffeine isn't fully dissolved, one muffin could get a much-too-high dose. Actually, now that I think of it, the novelty value is the only good thing here: it would be way easier just to take the caffeine pill with a drink of water, instead of pulverizing it, dissolving it, and having to eat it in something. Still--it's an appealing idea.

Speaking of--but not because of--caffeine, I was so wired last night. I'd be lying down feeling all buzzy and trapped and uncomfortable and eyelids-wide-open, so I'd get up and mess around for awhile but be too tired to focus on anything productive. So then I'd lie back down and hardly be able to BREATHE I was so oppressed by the sheets and the cats and the husband. Finally I tried going to sleep in the recliner and that did the trick, but then Henry woke me up early and I couldn't go back to sleep because the mildew in the bathroom was so irritating to me I had to spritz the hell out of it with Tilex RIGHT! THIS! SECOND! Now everyone else is starting to wake up, just as I'm thinking it would be reeeeeeeeally nice to lie down and go back to sleep.

Those of you doing the Couch to 5K thing with me should check yesterday's comment section for a couple of good ideas: one, to use a podcast specially designed for the program; and two, to sign up for an autumn 5K race as a motivator. My own good idea--not in the comments section but LIVE in this very post!--solves one of my biggest problems, which was: When do I DO this? I don't want to run in the pitch dark, but I also would rather not leave Paul with all five kids the second he gets home from work. So here is my brilliant idea: I'm going to bring Rob and William with me. This plan:
  • gives Paul time with just the twins (assuming Henry is either snoozing or doing his usual Fuss Time) without the older boys (or, um, me) clamoring for his attention
  • gets the older boys some badly-needed exercise, perhaps even tiring them out enough that dinner will not be the giddy ordeal it often is
  • gives me some time with the older boys
  • makes the whole thing seem like more of a fun project, because they don't yet know that exercise sucks and they should hate it, and possibly I will catch some of their attitude
  • makes it a little harder for me to fink out
  • means I can fit exercise in where I would normally have to be taking care of children, rather than where I would normally be blogging or eating ice cream.

Hey, speaking of running, I have weak arches. When I stand, my feet are totally flat. No bounce. This gets me out of having to run, right?

July 19, 2007

Couch to 5K Start Date; Never Crabby Shirt Link Request

Oh, wait....Are you actually taking me up on it? I was planning to just TALK about doing the Couch to 5K program, but then stay comfortably in my computer chair eating Raisinets until I gradually lost interest and forgot all about it. This reminds me of when I was talking with another mother about how we "should" try the Weight Watchers Core program, and she was like, "Great idea! Let's start Monday!," and then I was like, "Uhhhhhhhhhhh" with an alarmed facial expression and the intense look of someone who is about to take flight, or at least that's what she told me later I looked like.

Well, fine. FINE. I remember with the Weight Watchers thing that after I got over my initial panic, I was glad to have had someone push me out of the plane like that. Let's not start it this coming week, though; let's start the week after. I need time to calm my inner deer; also, time to bitch and moan. July 29th, then: that's the first day of the first week for anyone who wants to join in.

Do you have a photo of your dear girl in a Never Crabby shirt from The Children's Place? Send me the link (swistle at gmail and then the dot com, or you can put the link in my comments section, or if you don't have it posted you can email me the photo) and I'll post a list. Here are two photos of Elizabeth modeling hers:

July 18, 2007

Updates, and the Possibility of a Running Program

[Edited to add links to the posts I was updating, because that was getting confusing. Also to change the spelling of Raisinets, now that I have a bag to refer to.]


Henry is the first of my five children to not like the vibrating bouncy seat. The other four practically lived in it, and he's all, "This is HELLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!"

Today is Day 17 of my mother-in-law failing to mention that she plans to visit us in October.

The comments you guys made on the wedding rant made me want to propose to each and every one of you. With so many of us awesome people being all rational about weddings, where do all those crazy people get their ideas? I suppose we're all too polite to stomp them down.

And the baby names discussion in yesterday's post is So! Much! Fun! I wanted to reply to ALL the comments with paragraph after paragraph after paragraph, but I think of the comments section as YOURS, and I didn't want to hog it. Suffice it to say, that particular comments section is one of the best ever, and I think we should talk about baby names many more times in the future using some of those comments as starting points.

Thanks for all the answers to questions about chocolate-covered cherries, eight-year-olds and US Weekly, alcohol soreness, and men's shorts.
  • I contacted one of the 4-pound-box cherry places, but they say they don't ship chocolate-covered products in the summer, which makes sense. She said to call in September. In the meantime, I'm going to check out the local health-food store, the Harry & David stuff at Target, and I'm also going to use Raisinets as a substitute.
  • I told Rob that US Weekly was a magazine for grown-ups, and he didn't persist, so I left it at that. If it comes up again, I'm going to use the idea about asking him what he likes about the magazine and going from there.
  • I tried drinking tons of water and then drinking alcohol, because the dehydrated theory made the most sense to me. I still got all sore. Also, I don't get much of a buzz: I get a funny feeling, and I wait for it to be over. My new theory is that for whatever reason, my body's chemistry doesn't respond to alcohol in the usual way. The upcoming mother-in-law visit makes me really, really, really wish this wasn't the case. Luckily, my body over-responds to sugar, so I'll just stock up on candy to hide in my room.
  • I'm going to Target soon, maybe this evening or maybe this weekend, and I'm going to buy Paul a sampling of shorts to try.
Oh, and also thanks for the advice about getting Edward's little paws off the DVD player! My favorite is the one about, you know, putting the DVD player out of reach. I, um, hadn't thought of that. It goes under the TV! It can't be MOVED!

It was good to hear I'm not the only one who dreads the 6-week mark. I shouldn't have used the words "HAVE to"--Paul isn't waiting there with a calendar and a mean look on his face. But when it's been six weeks since the birth, and there was a time before the birth when nothing was happening either, I do feel like trying to see things from his point of view. Or trying to try--I'm not having much luck seeing it as anything except, "Oh my god, you are not seriously interested in that."

I tried the Dove 2-in-1 Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, and I really like it. It goes up there with my top three.

Did you notice that The Children's Place has put their clearance down another notch? Last weekend I went to the physical store (as opposed to shopping online as I did the last time we talked about this) and got Elizabeth a pair of the funny wide-legged capris for this summer and another pair for next summer, a pair of really cool embellished shorts, and the two raglan shirts (one in pansy and one in bubble) that I almost bought online. I also bought Rob (because of handmedowns, I guess I should say "bought Rob and William and Edward and Henry") a bunch of pairs of shorts. I would have bought way way more (I had a 20% off coupon to use, too), but there was very little left.

Hey, if I wanted to do the Couch to 5K running program, would anyone else want to do it with me? I like company, even if it's only online. On the other hand, you'd have to be prepared that I might fink out on the second day. Seriously, maybe even the first day. I might never even get around to the first day. But if I DID--would you want to do it, too?

July 17, 2007

VOTE! Boy Names vs. Girl Names

Edited to add this relevant and interesting article by The Baby Name Wizard: "Congratulations! It's a...Uh Oh."

Sarah mentioned in her post today that she and her husband have a really easy time choosing girl baby names, but a hard time choosing boy baby names. I commented that I think it's because boy names are REALLY DIFFICULT--either too common or too out-there. It occurs to me, though, that not everyone would agree with that: perhaps some people find boy names easy and girl names impossible.

So please be so kind as to vote: Is it harder to choose a name for a boy baby, or harder to choose a name for a girl baby? You don't have to have named any babies at all to venture an opinion. And please feel free to elaborate at length, as baby naming is one of my FAVORITE SUBJECTS IN THE WHOLE WORLD and I will be hanging on your every word.

July 16, 2007

Crabby Ranting Re Weddings

I am crabby today because of a discussion my mom had with one of her friends about weddings. The friend claimed that if you attend a wedding, you have to spend on a wedding gift AT LEAST the amount the couple spent on your food. That is, at a $50/plate reception, if you and your husband and two children attend, you have to spend a minimum of $200 on a wedding gift.

No. The couple plans their own wedding and pays for it in whatever way they have worked out, and those costs don't have to be reimbursed IN ANY WAY by the guests.

Wedding presents are in fact COMPLETELY SEPARATE from the issue of wedding expenses. The cost of the wedding present is determined by the guest's finances and by what the guest feels is the right amount to spend on a wedding present for this particular couple. That's IT. There is no requirement that the guest factor in how extravagant the catering was, or how much it cost to rent the reception location, or how big a mortgage the marrying couple has, or ANYTHING ELSE.

Otherwise, it would have to go the other way, too. The wedding guests would have to subtract from the gift budget the amount spent on travel expenses to get to the wedding, and also subtract how much it cost them to buy their wedding clothes, and also subtract any wages they lost by missing work to attend the wedding. And if the guest had expenses higher than what the marrying couple spent per guest, the marrying couple would have to rush out to purchase more expensive food for that guest. I don't think this is a road the wedding couple wants to start going down. And if they DO want to go down that road, I am WAITING. With a BASEBALL BAT! BRING IT ON!!!

I do have sympathy for both sides. My brother got married last summer, and the cost of a wedding is...well, it's appalling. If you want people to sit down and eat, holy crap you are SCREWED. My brother and his then-fiancee went out sampling various catering options, and they came home stunned and glassy-eyed, saying "You can get better food through a DRIVE-THRU than you can get catered for $40 a plate!" And of course there's also the flowers and the photography and the music and the favors and the liquor. But! All of these expenses are purely optional, and none of them belong to the guests.

Guests could stand to learn a lesson or two about "purely optional" and "not belonging to the guests" themselves. I have heard guests complaining that it is "tacky" not to have an open bar, or to have "only wine." I've also heard guests claim that the marrying couple should pay for their plane tickets, and I've even heard guests say "My presence is their present," which, oh my god.

Perhaps if the marrying couple agrees to stop whining about what guests "owe" them, guests will kindly stop acting as if the marrying couple is in any way obligated to do anything at the wedding other than get married. It is not, after all, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get smashed at someone else's expense." If the guests think the wedding should be about overpriced food and booze instead of about being there when a couple gets married, the guests can choose not to attend a wedding at which the focus is on the ceremony. Of course, the marrying couple MAY serve expensive food! And how very very nice of them to choose to do so, and the guests should be pleased. But must the guest then choose a more expensive present? No. ...Wait, I think we've been here before.

Let's review, shall we, now that we seem to be going in circles anyway? The wedding is not about the couple scoring lots of loot, or getting paid back for their wedding expenses. Nor is the wedding about free food and liquor and entertainment for the guests. The wedding is about GETTING MARRIED. Neither side is obligated to put out a lot of cash for the other side. And if either side chooses to do so, the other side is not obligated to balance the scales.

July 15, 2007

The Idiot's Cookbook

My mother-in-law made us a cookbook as a wedding present. It would do nothing but gather deep, deep dust except that when she visits she asks to see it, and then pores over her own recipes talking about how great they are and how much Paul loves them. Reminder: they are not; he does not.

This morning Paul wanted to make cinnamon rolls, and he knew there was a recipe in that book, so he got it out. He got the dough made (the recipe just said "dough" so he made a usual bread machine batch), and then got to the part where you make the topping--which is made in the bottom of the pan, since you flip the rolls out upside-down when they're done. The recipe says to "put in butter and brown sugar." No quantities. Then there is a sentence about how she's sorry but she just does this by eye. Well, how about a goddamn estimate, then? Is it a teaspoon of butter or is it two sticks? Is it a tablespoon of brown sugar or is it the whole pound-size box?

It is not a surprise to me that we would discover this problem in her recipes. My mother-in-law scoffs at people who MEASURE things, and has great admiration for anyone who can put food together creatively--such as herself. I admire people who can cook without recipes, too, but I also admire people who cook WITH them, especially when they get good results, and when they can pass those good results on to other cooks. My own personal top rating goes to people who start with recipes in order to learn, and then go branching off from there--and who DON'T SCOFF.

Here is what I think: you either respect recipes or you don't, and you can't play it both ways. If you like to think of yourself as the "I just cook from my heart and it always turns out PERRRRRFECT, I just don't UNDERSTAND people who have to use RECIPES, isn't it GLORIOUS when you finally become a good enough cook that you don't NEED them" type, like my mother-in-law, that's fine--but then you don't get to pass your recipes down to the next generation as if a recipe is NOW suddenly a deeply important thing. "Cinnamon Rolls: YOU know! Butter! Sugar! Dough! Jesus, figure it out!" "Meatloaf: Well...you MAKE A MEAT LOAF! Duh!" "Chicken Soup: Chicken! Soup! Put 'em together, moron!" Great cookbook, there, Mother-In-Law. You should shop that to publishers. You can call it Any Idiot Can Use A Recipe. Except Me.

July 13, 2007

More Questions

Blogging is light on the weekends, which makes me feel lonely and bleak. Perhaps others of you feel just as lonely and bleak, and we can use this time to solve the world's problems. Such as:

1) Do you know where I can get more chocolate-covered dried cherries? I finished TWO entire two-pound bags, and now Amazon.com isn't selling them anymore, and when I looked up the brand (Traverse Bay Fruit Co.) I found information about dried fruit but not about CHOCOLATE-COVERED dried fruit, and now that I know of its existence I don't know if I can go on without it. I've tried Dilettante chocolate-covered fruits and those are pretty good too, but what I want is pretty much exactly like Raisinettes but cherry-based instead of grape-based.

2) If I drink alcohol, my muscles start hurting about five minutes later. WTF? Does that...MEAN something?

3) Rob was looking at my US Weekly magazine. He was giving special attention to the "Bikini Special!" section. Rob is EIGHT YEARS OLD. Are we seriously THERE already? And am I supposed to....I don't know, STOP it? Like, hide my US Weekly magazines?

4) The men in your life--where do they buy their shorts? Paul has been wearing the same shorts for about ten years now, and it occurs to me that he's looking...out of date. But I'm not exactly hip to what the young people are wearing these days.

Bonus points if you can answer all four.

Question: Childproofing the DVD Player

Edward will not (WILL! NOT!) stop changing DVDs in the DVD player. He takes a DVD out of the slot, puts it away, gets out a new one, puts it in the slot, repeat every 30 seconds. I'm trying to let the twins have as much time out of their playpen as possible, but he keeps ending up back in there because of this. I actually wouldn't mind if he occasionally changed the DVD, since he knows how, but it is seriously one after another, and once he cracked a DVD trying to get it out of the case, and sometimes he presses the "record" button, and so on. Any suggestions on how to keep him away from it? Preferably something CHEAP.

July 12, 2007

Six Weeks


Henry is six weeks old today. I am imagining you all greeting that news with Jerry-Springer-audience sounds: lascivious woooops or sympathetic groans, depending on how you felt or feel or think you'd feel about having sex after taking care of a newborn all day and night for six weeks following nine months of carrying another human being around in a body built for one.

I copied Devan's idea and made my six-week OB appointment (note: for those of you who are not hip to the childbearing thang, this is the appointment at which the OB gives you permission to Resume Relations) for more like seven weeks, but even so, here we are within a headache's distance of it.

Listen, I am well aware that many women CAN'T WAIT to start having sex again. Some of them are rumored to be so hot for it, they break the 6-week rule. I'm not saying we can't be friends anymore if you feel that way about it, but I'm more at the end of the spectrum where Jamie from Mad About You tries to get away with telling her husband that it's six months.

Having a baby is very, very physical, and I am not a touchy-snuggly person to start with. Holding and nursing the baby maxes out my desire to feel warm skin against mine. Burping and changing the baby maxes out my desire to deal with another person's bodily fluids.

And that's not even including topics such as whether I can imagine doing anything in a nice soft bed except sleeping, or whether I can imagine having sex with someone who spent his whole evening on the computer while I held a crying baby.

I'm not interested, that's all. Part of it is hormonal (at my 6-week post-William appointment, my OB said cheerfully, "This is what you can look forward to after menopause!"), part of it is the circumstances (newborn, sleep deprivation, milk everywhere, incision just barely finished healing), and part of it is my own personal capacity for physical contact (low).

Simple to explain that to a husband? Um, no. So next week I have to choose birth control (all the options suck) and then I have to act Happy To See Him.

July 11, 2007

Weddings: Let's Do The Snarky-Snarky

It is astonishing how bad you can feel if your hair is greasy and there are wet milk circles on your pajama top, and the baby first refuses to nurse and then screams steadily throughout the rest of the events of this paragraph, and then your son calls from the bathroom that you have an opportunity to look for the metal ball he swallowed two days ago, and the ball is still not there and then the toilet clogs and you can't unclog it, and you go back out to the living room and notice a cat has barfed on the couch, and there's a bad smell coming from somewhere in the house, and remember that baby has been screaming this whole time.

So let's not talk about that! I have a different topic. My mom and I were trying to pin down which elements of a wedding make it seem tacky or tasteful, over-the-top or lovely, etc. My mom and I are similar in many ways, but we didn't agree completely.

We have to tread a little carefully here, don't we, because the things one person considers tac-KAY, another person thinks are awesome and romantic. On the other hand, it's the snarky comments about the tackiness of weddings we've attended that make this conversation the dirty little pleasure it is, so, you know, don't hold back too much. My day could use some happy snarking.

July 10, 2007

Up and Down as Usual

Henry woke me around 5:00, and by 5:45 he was back to sleep and I had to make the kind of decision that these days confronts me again and again and AGAIN and dominates my mental and physical landscape: Do I try to go back to sleep at this point and then have to drag myself up again in 15 minutes or 45 minutes or an hour, feeling nauseated and resentful? Or do I stay awake, because I'm already awake enough to feel okay about that idea, but then later feel exhausted and irritable because I should have slept more?

I got up. It's 8:15, too soon to call the decision. Ask me again around 2:30 this afternoon.

I'm up and down as usual. Sometimes I'm despairing because I can't seem to turn my mind to even one small thing such as a quick answer to a short email. Or because I seem to spend all evening pinned under a newborn, and then bedtime comes and goes with no change in the situation. Other times I'm eating a bowl of ice cream at the computer and I run out of computer stuff I want to do and so I sit there aimlessly feeling all groovy and bored. Or I get a bunch of things done one after another and feel all successful. Or I look back and realize I've been gradually successful: it's uphill, and things don't get done as often as they should, but for example Rob changed his sheets this weekend when he was cleaning his room, and I had to change William's when he woke up wet a day or two later, and then last night I was clock-watching for the kids' bedtime and realized I had a couple of free minutes to change Edward's crib sheet, and so you see it DOES get done bit by bit and that's encouraging.

But then at 5:00 in the morning I'm nursing the baby, and he's writhing and keeps latching on and off, and when I burp him he spits up on my finally-got-it-laundered shirt and on my finally-got-it-showered self. And then I change his diaper and he spits up a little more, onto his finally-put-him-in-fresh-clothes outfits and into his finally-washed-that-kid's-hair hair, the changing of which and the washing of which had previously been one of my encouraging accomplishments. And then as I sit back down with him, my body sore from sleeping in the recliner most of the night, he fills his freshly-changed diaper. At 5:30 a.m., things can seem cyclical and unending. But now it's 8:30 and I'm dressed and damp-haired and blogging, and eating from a 2-pound bag of chocolate-covered dried cherries, and ignoring those suspicious sounds from the other room, and things are good again. These first few months are so nuts.

July 9, 2007

Super-Secret Book Recommendation!

I have a book to strongly recommend! But there is a small problem. My mother-in-law is distantly connected to the author: the author is related by marriage to someone who lives in my mother-in-law's town. To my mother-in-law, this is almost the same as having written the book herself, and she is taking an unusually intense interest in the book's success. If I were to write about the book, it would not be astonishing for her to find my blog in one of her searches.

So! I must somehow communicate the book's title and author to you without mentioning either one! Anyone up for a game of charades?

How about this instead: This super-secret link!

I lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvved the book. As much as I liked the HARRY POTTER books, I kid you not! Maybe even...MORE.

Dumbassery

I ran into a casual acquaintance today at the park. She was there with her husband and kids. After about an hour of watching/hearing her husband, I'm 98% sure he's abusive--and if he's not, I'm 100% sure he's an unpleasant asshole. He's a guy I knew a little bit in high school, and I hadn't seen him since. Over the years I've known her, I have gone on and on and ON to her about what a fine upstanding fellow he was: so smart and so respectful and so responsible and so mature--because he WAS in high school. I was trying to say nice things ("Great husband! Nice choice!"), but now I imagine her listening to my way-off crap and feeling like now she can't confide in me that he's actually one of those tightly-wound guys who, in a movie, would soon be cackling crazily and wielding a shotgun. I feel like a right dumbass. No wonder our friendship never seemed to move forward. Also, I have that "wanting to fix it" feeling ("Should I ask if everything's okay?") that never leads anywhere good.

William swallowed a Magnetix ball--it's like a metal marble. Luckily he didn't swallow one of the little magnetic parts of the set: those are the pieces that have caused the sets to be recalled. The pediatrician says "all we have to do is watch for it to come out." Well, I don't know if you've had this "watching" privilege before. I never had. I'm glad that what we're talking about here is not, say, a valuable item that must be retrieved, and that after I "find" it, I can let it flush right down the toilet.

I am stricken by my stupid procrastination. I've been meaning for MONTHS to pack up the Magnetix and mail them in for the replacement toy, but I've been so MAD about it: I don't WANT a stupid replacement toy, I want our money back. We spent a lot of money on multiple sets of Magnetix because they were so awesome, and now they're, you know, FATAL, and so even though it's a stupid decision to keep them in the house, I feel angry about the lost money and the replacement toy, and so I put it off. Dumbass.

Also, I feel despair at the way even a six-year-old will still EAT A TOY, when I thought we were about three years past worrying about that.

And I feel hopeless because we'll probably never find all the little dangerous magnets that have fallen out of the plastic sticks: the other day, the cat had a little chain of magnets hanging from his collar. They're tiny, they're everywhere, and they can be fatal if the child swallows more than one, and there's no way we can find them all. My solution? Don't think about it. GREAT IDEA! I'm lucky it was William who swallowed a piece, since he can tell me that he did. And I'm lucky he swallowed a non-magnetic component, which is not dangerous unless he also swallows a magnet. And I'm a total dumbass for keeping this toy in the house just because I'm sulking about the money.

To be fair, I'm not the dumbass who ate the metal marble.

July 8, 2007

Smile!


Do you know how many tries it took to capture even that crazy-looking picture of a smile? Many. It took many tries. I had to kiss him and make coochy-woochy noises, then quickly get out of the way, put the camera in front of his face, and hope the picture wouldn't be all blurry from not using the flash. Repeat and repeat and repeat, until the poor baby wouldn't smile anymore.

The little ingrate smiled first at Paul. Hey, no, don't take into consideration whose nipples were all cracked but nursed you anyway, taking a layer of enamel off her teeth from clenching so hard with each painful latch-on. Don't take into consideration who gets up with you at 3:30 in the morning when you want a little snack or a little company. No, no, I wouldn't want to influence you by reminding you who it was who gave up her body as a vessel for nine months, barfing and barfing in what had better turn out to be a genetic advantage. Heavens no! Neither will I present Exhibit A: stretch marks, or Exhibit B: saggy tum flap, or Exhibit C: hormones you could sharpen a knife on. No! Go ahead and smile first at the other one, that's fine with me.

July 6, 2007

Dreams; Expenses; Old Posts

I had a bad dream about my mother-in-law last night. She was telling me what a good cook she is (she does tell me this, repeatedly), and how I should really use her recipes if I want to make Paul happy (she doesn't say this outright, but constantly hints it). I summoned up all my courage and told her that Paul doesn't actually like her cooking (this is true). She said knowingly, "Oh, I think he does," and then rapidly started talking about something else--which is EXACTLY what she does whenever I disagree with her on any subject: flatly contradicts me and then goes on to another subject in the same breath so I can't argue. The whole encounter was so realistic. Thanks to my subconscious, I get extra time with my mother-in-law!

This is Day 5 of her not telling us that she's coming for a visit. At first I thought--charitably, and then feeling righteous and lovely for being so charitable toward someone I can't stand--that perhaps she was just waiting to mention it the next time she wrote to us, which would be a perfectly reasonable thing for her to do (more self-awarded points for me, for being so reasonable myself). But she has now emailed us, and has failed to mention the trip, which tells me that she's hiding it. One thing I hate about Paul's family is how SECRETIVE they all are. Last time she visited she took a plane, and she hid her departure date. As if we weren't going to find out! She also won't tell us how she meets her boyfriends, which of course makes me assume she meets them in some shameful, sordid fashion (I picture her hanging out in the hallways of nursing homes, licking her lips and waggling her eyebrows suggestively at all the old men wheeling by), but probably just means it makes her feel powerful not to tell.

I went to the dentist earlier this week for what was supposed to be just a cleaning. Actually, never mind, I don't want to discuss this after all, forget I said anything. Suffice it to say that dentist stuff, it SUCKS. Sucks YOUR MONEY.

It seems like everything needs money from us right now: the couch is broken, the kitchen faucet is broken, the lawnmower is broken, the insurance copays have gone up and we got back-billed for two months' worth of them, the hospital wants to see a little cash for that whole c-section thing, there's our goddamned teeth which ought to be hand-crafted out of solid gold by the time we're done paying for them, etc. Paul is all, "It's going to be okay, it really is," and I guess it will be, but doesn't it sometimes feel as if it's just one huge expense after another your entire life? When will there be big wads of cash that DON'T go for dental work and various insurances and car repairs? And then I can hear buzzing in the back of my mind about how we should have 6 months' living expenses in savings AND be saving for the kids' college educations AND what do you MEAN you don't have a retirement account, you'll NEVER be able to retire now, NEVER, NEVERRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

I found a couple of old posts I thought I had already posted. Or maybe I did post them and these are unused draft versions, so now I will seem to be repeating myself. Well, whatever, I've posted them now:

Now Is Not The Time
LYKWTAMBYTWAWTTO Day!

Go relive April and May!

July 5, 2007

A Pitiful List

Yesterday and today I have felt NUTS, like I'm going to fly up in the sky and shoot out sprays of irritation and anger over all the land. Everything is pissing me off, everything is stressful, there are too many stressful, pissy things happening all at once. I can't even tell if this is a postpartum thing or if life is actually stressful and pissy right now. All I know is that I don't like anybody or anything, and that it seems like it would feel really great to take a whole stack of plates out to the driveway and smash them one after another. Mmmmm, destruction.

Since we scared all the pregnant women with our postpartum discussion a few days ago, it seems only fair that we now share tips on the things that can help to alleviate the problem. Let's try not to laugh a hard, bitter laugh as we try to think of things.

I've mentioned in another post that it helps me to have good food, and to try to do one small task per day. I've also mentioned that I do whatever gets me more sleep. Here are some other things I've tried with some success. And when I say "some success," I assume you know I mean "It may keep me from packing my bag and heading for a hotel hide-out, but it doesn't take that off the list of options." These are just things that sometimes make me feel a little better, not things that "fix" anything or make any kind of huge difference. I assume you also know that I am in no way qualified to give out any kind of medical advice whatsoever, and that if you are feeling truly nuts you need to consult a doctor about it because postpartum stuff can be really serious and bad, right? Good.

1) Coffee, small amounts (too much can make me all jittery and snappish, and I think I have gracious plenty of that already), especially with a selection of flavored creamers to stir into it and a cookie to eat with it. I once read on a web site that 1/4th cup of coffee taken medicinally every hour can be helpful for mild depression.

2) Turning on lots and lots of lights. I read that tip on the same website that mentioned the medicinal coffee. I'd thought it wouldn't help, but it did seem to improve my mood on dark, sad mornings.

3) Taking fish oil capsules. I read a long time ago that a study found fish oil helped with postpartum depression. That could be a total load, but it stayed with me and now if it's not true I don't want to hear about it. There is something to be said for the placebo effect.

4) Nice smells. A pretty shower gel, a good perfume--but not a scented candle in this state of mind or you'll accidentally burn the house down and then think how sad you'll be.


For the love of god, tell me you have more ideas, because that list is pitiful and the combination of insurance issues and the kids' giddiness is making me feel like scorching the land with my wrath.

July 3, 2007

The Sims As Postpartum Trainers


Here is a Swistle pregnancy tip: play The Sims computer game in your third trimester.

On The Sims, you monitor the mental and physical health of your Sims people by consulting a little panel of bars. There is a bar for hunger, a bar for fun, a bar for needing to pee, a bar for needing comfort, etc. A bar heading toward solid red means things are getting dangerously bad; a bar heading toward solid green means things are looking good. A little diamond hovers above the head of the Sim, giving a summary of all the bars combined: green is good, grey is getting bad, red is time to dive for cover.

If you experience postpartum the way I do, you will have times when you start feeling all darty-eyed and frantic and crazy and sad, and everything is bad at the same time, and it seems as if the only solution is to sit there and cry at the futility of existence. There are so many things I need, and I know that if I get them I will feel better, but I'm so overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I need that I can't even do a single one. It feels pointless even to try to pee, since the house will still be a mess and I'll still be starving and I'll still need a shower and the baby will still want to be clumped sweatily on my shoulder every minute of every day and I'll still have a dishtowel stuffed under my shirt because all my nursing bras are in the laundry basket.

If I've been playing The Sims for the last couple of months, however, I will be in auto-play mode, seeing little red/green bars wherever I turn. I will not try to get every single one of my bars to green but rather to improve the bar-averaging diamond over my head by fixing the things that are easiest to fix. It is helpful to remember that even just peeing will improve your overall situation; it works for a Sim, anyway. Eating a muffin improves things still further. Putting one dirty plate in the sink = even better. Every small thing you do will add up. And that is good, because there are times when a single small thing is about all you can manage. Go pee now, there's a good girl.

July 2, 2007

TCP and MIL

This morning my mother has taken all five children. All five! I have 45 minutes of utter aloneness in the house before I need to go pick up three of them. So far I have used my precious, precious time to:

1) pee with the door open
2) eat four--no, five--Reese's peanut butter cups

Woo hoo, party at my house!

I went to The Children's Place store yesterday and bought a few more things to supplement last week's online order. I found the pink patterned maryjane sneakers, which was happy: I'd only been able to get them in blue on the site. I also found the pink/orange hoodie in 4T for next year: there were none in 4T on the site so I'd bought it in 3T, but 3T is this year's size and so probably I'll return that one when it arrives (Elizabeth already has two spring-patterned hoodies in 3T). I also bought a pink crinkle skirt and a purple shirt with a huge ice cream cone on it. I'd wanted the huggable octopus shirt but they didn't have any left in bigger sizes. I considered the striped crinkle skirt and maybe I will still go back for it, but yesterday the twins were falling apart and I didn't have enough time to consider shirt options.

While I was out, I also bought the big bottle of Dove 2-in-1 moisturizing shampoo conditioner. I used it this morning but my hair is still wet so it's too soon for a report.

So! On to non-retail news! My mother-in-law is in touch with my parents from time to time, and she emailed them yesterday to say that she is driving out to visit us this October. How many days do you think it will be before she tells us? Let's start the count: today is Day 1.

So. October. And this is July. That means I have roughly three months to clean the house. It will not be enough time. I think I am going to have to bring back "Digging Ourselves Out" projects. I did one the day before yesterday but didn't think to take a Before picture. We have a large endtable next to the couch, and it was piled so high with clutter, items were actually sliding down as if on skis. I'd intended to remove only the things Edward was actively getting into, but I inadvertently triggered a total-endtable clear-up. Now no one is allowed to put a single thing on that Lemon Pledge-shiny surface. EVER AGAIN.