January 31, 2008

Pacing

Sooooooo........

Are you all pacing a trough in your hallways like I am? Every time I see a new All & Sundry post or a new So the Fish Said post or a new Hello, Self post, I just about throw up from excitement. Here is my brain: "Baby?? Baby?? Baby?? Baby?? Baby?? Baby??"

So. *drums fingers*

BABY??

(From the rest of you, I'm hoping for pregnancy announcements.)

January 30, 2008

WT?

Oh! So here I was, thinking diet talk and phobia talk must be REALLY BORING and/or that no one loved me, and instead I find out that it is Blogger or possibly my spam filter who do not love me, because I am supposed to be getting every comment sent to me in an email but OH I AM NOT! I was getting SOME of them--but I thought there were about 20 comments on the breakfast post and about 15 on the underwater largeness phobia post, and I WAS SO WRONG.

Edit: And the blame goes to . . . *opens envelope* . . . spam filter! Almost a hundred messages in my spam folder. NICE. Do you know how many suggestive subject headings I had to wade through to dig all those out? I need a shower.

Underwater Largeness Phobia

Lisa, because I yelled at her until she gave in to my demands asked her nicely, wrote this post about something she calls Underwater Largeness Phobia. The instant she called it that in a passing reference (in another post), I knew what she meant. Or I THOUGHT I probably did, and that's why I hoped she'd write more about it so I could see. And she did, in the post I linked to. And it turns out she and I share a phobia. And now you're all caught up.

What Lisa and I are wondering is if there are other people who have this--and if so, what it's called. I started to do some research online, and I found references to it, but (1) nothing helpful, like a name--more like other people mentioning the same phobia, and (2) their descriptions of what they were afraid of were making me gag. (Lisa, skip to the next paragraph; I'm about to give examples.) Huge tree trunks under water. The underwater workings of flume rides. Huge boulders under water. Seriously: gagging and feeling horrified/hot/sick.

For me, it is basically a fear of Large Things that are Under Water. (You can see why I thought Lisa's name for it was so apt.) One of the worst things I ever saw (sorry, Lisa, it's more examples) was the cover of a Jaws paperback: the swimmer balanced on the surface of the water, the huge shark coming up from underneath, and so much water still below the shark. I also look away if a movie shows a submarine coming up to the surface: all the water running off the sides FREAKS ME OUT.

January 29, 2008

Solidarity. Also: Breakfast

My sister-in-law Anna and I are doing this diet together. This is what we did about 2 years ago, before her wedding to my brother. We've both tried dieting separately since, with no luck. Perhaps we are the Dieting Wonder Twins, and must combine our powers in order to use them?

Last night I emailed her and said that my day had gone almost TOO well, and she emailed back that hers had gone the same.

What is WITH us? Do you think we will PAY and PAY BIG later for our easy start? Last time we did this, I spent the first three days in an almost-psychosis, scribbling tearfully in my journal and feeling like I couldn't go on. This time, my mind would wander to something yummy and I would say to myself dismissively, "Stop thinking about food," and I would obey.

Today is going well again. I saw my tummy while getting dressed, and I thought briskly, "No need to worry---I'm doing something about it" instead of my former thoughts which were more like "OMG MUST DO SOMETHING!!! WHY AM NOT DOING SOMETHING??? WHY IN FACT HEADING FOR COOKIES TO SOOTHE TROUBLED EYES???"


What are your feelings about BREAKFAST? Do you think that skipping it means (1) you're not burning any calories yet, and (2) that you'll have harder-to-control hunger attacks later on? Or do you think that eating it when you're not hungry is (1) a waste of calories that would be better used later on, and (2) starting up the tummy's demands too early in the day?

I lean more toward the latter, but I worry about the former. I also lean toward thinking that people's bodies are different on this as on every other food/eating/dieting/exercise issue, and so what is ABSOLUTELY TRUE for one person might not be true for another.

January 28, 2008

Diet: The First Day

So. Here we are. Dieting.

Sigh.

Well. It has not been bad so far. *checks watch* And look! It's already been FOURTEEN HOURS!

The first day went pretty well. No slips, and not too much wallowing in self-pity. I kept reminding myself that this was my OWN decision to do this. I also instructed myself to stop thinking about food so much.

It makes me a little nervous, in fact, that the day went so well. See? There is no pleasing me.

Nor is there any pleasing THE MIGHTY TIGER!

He is not CRYING, he is ROARING.

January 27, 2008

Thoughts: The Night Before Starting a Diet

If you cheat, you are only hurting yourself. It is totally stupid to cheat on a diet. Who do you think you're winning against? Like when your grandma was all indignant about some hoax she believed, so she boycotted KMart. But she didn't even write KMart a letter to let them know she was doing it. Did she really think KMart was going to notice that they no longer got her $20/week? "Uh oh!" they'd say. "We must have pissed off Mrs. Rice! Let's give her a call and find out what we're doing wrong so we can stop doing it and make her happy!" NO. They didn't even notice, and she had to find somewhere else to shop, where the prices were higher.

Don't think about food so much. In theory, dieting should be easier than not dieting, because there are fewer choices, and fewer times of the day to be deciding what to eat. This should free up so much time. I said, THIS SHOULD FREE UP SO MUCH TIME. I cannot believe it--are you ALREADY thinking about what to eat next?

Remember to weigh first thing tomorrow morning, to get a starting weight. And write it in the Diet Journal--there's still plenty of space from the last time you were writing in the Diet Journal. In fact, there's probably no need to write in the Diet Journal this time: just cross off the dates from last time and write in the dates from this time. Saves paper! Saves time!

Think ahead about the times when you are likely to be particularly weak, and make arrangements. Like, when the kids go down for their naps and you would normally break out the contraband--I don't think a vegetable platter is going to fill that void. Or what about after dinner, when you wash out the taste of dinner with something sweet? What're you going to eat THEN, tough girl? FRUIT?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. What? A thousand miles? Nobody said anything about A THOUSAND MILES!! Let me off! Wait! Let me OFFFFFFF!!!!

I should be eating a dessert the size of my head right now. I'm not hungry for it now, but tomorrow when I'm looking back, I will be KICKING my last-night self for not eating whatever I wanted while I still could.

Making Baby Food: Encore!

After the post I did about homemade baby food, there were requests for more info. And now suddenly I am a little anxious about seeming to present myself as some kind of expert, because here is how I got started making baby food: I read the ingredients list on a jar of Gerber peas and thought "Peas, water. I think I can combine peas and water for less than 50 cents a jar." So I cooked some peas and ground them up with some water, and voila! Easy-peasy!

I did consult my baby-care manual first: it's Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I've linked to the most recent edition but my copy is from 1998. Out of date much? But when I was consulting it in 1999, it was CUTTING EDGE, BABY. It said that the following foods should NOT be made at home because of possible high levels of nitrates: beets, turnips, carrots, collard greens, and spinach. Not that I would have been whipping up a big batch of turnips anyway, but it's good to know. (I still use frozen mixed-vegetable blends that contain carrots.)


Here are some of the blends I make most often:

1) Mixed vegetable blends. Usually I get the kind that has green beans, green peas, carrots, and corn. Or sometimes I get a different assortment, like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, and lima beans. Exciting!

2) Single vegetable plus single legume: green peas and chick peas, or green beans and kidney beans, or squash and great northern beans, or whatever. You can use dried beans, but then you have to soak them and cook them for a long time, so I use canned.

3) Mixed berries. The first time I tried this, it gelled up worse than jelly and was impossible to feed to the baby without re-blendering it. If you add some applesauce (about a cup) and some infant cereal (half a cup or so) to it in the blender, it will stay sauce-ish.

4) Chicken. Poach it (half-submerge chicken breasts in a lidded skillet of water and boil until cooked), cut it into cubes, and put it in the blender. I use boneless skinless chicken breasts. It blended up a LOT more easily than I'd thought it would. I freeze this in ice-cube trays because I want smaller portions. When feeding it to the baby, I mix it with a vegetable.


Okay! Answers to other questions:

The American Academy of Pediatrics manual says (keep in mind that my edition is ten years out of date, but I'm pretty sure this is the same as the leaflet the pediatrician gave me when the twins were babies) that at 8 months, babies can start having yogurt, cottage cheese, and cooked egg yolk. You can tip the raw white out of the shell and scramble just the yolk, or you can pick the yolk out of a hardboiled egg. This works out awesome if you yourself are on a diet and want only the whites.

I mix baby food with infant cereal and water: roughly half vegetable/fruit and half cereal/water. I started 6-month-old Henry on one meal a day of about a tablespoon of thin-applesauce-consistency food, and as soon as he got the hang of it I rapidly increased to a half-cup or so, and then to more like three-quarters of a cup. He's nearly 8 months now, and recently I changed to two feedings a day of about a half cup each (more if he's yolfing it down), and he's eating it at more of a thick-applesauce consistency. I don't think there are any firm rules on how much or how often or what proportions. I believe I must take it slower than average, based on the pediatrician's mistaken assumptions about what the baby is eating.

The AAP book says that banana can be fed to the baby raw, but other foods should be cooked until soft, so I do cook fruits, yes, but not for long. (My guess is that there are other schools of thought on this, and I have no doubt the other schools are just as awesome and that their school cheers are just as peppy.) See above about adding applesauce (and I also add infant cereal) to the blender to avoid gelling. And don't add much water to the cooking pan, because the fruit has a surprising amount of water in it.

I add some water to meat to make it blend smoothly, but I don't add anything else to it. I didn't even try meats until my third and fourth children, because it seemed so gross to do it (meat in the blender----HORK), and also it seemed like the meat wouldn't blend smoothly. But I used white-meat chicken and it blended gorgeously, and it was WAY less gross than those cat-food-scented jars of meat baby food. (And so much cheaper, you can't even believe it.)

I'm not sure what the freezer lifespan is. We go through it pretty fast, so it hasn't been an issue. My freezer says that soups can be frozen for one month, and that seems like a nice rough estimate--but I suspect the food would be fine for longer amounts of time.

No, I don't make all my own baby food. I often buy the fruits, because it's not as big a savings to make fruits. You can make a huge quantity of vegetables for cheap, cheap, cheap, but fruits are more labor and more money for less yield. I buy big jars of applesauce, and I mash up banana with a fork, and I buy a few jars of fruit baby food. I also buy carrot baby food, because of the nitrate problem my AAP manual mentioned. And I buy baby food to have on hand for convenience (especially with the twins, there were times when I ran out of chow), and for keeping indefinitely in the diaper bag. (The homemade stuff should be kept frozen or refrigerated until you're ready to feed it to the baby.)

Speaking of out-of-date, here's a picture of Henry from Christmas.

January 26, 2008

Mondays are Bad Enough Already

Well, listen. I'm sorry to have to say this, so I'll just say it outright: I'm going on a diet. It's a betrayal of all we hold dear: mint chocolate brownies, creamy chicken casseroles, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, oatmeal scotchies, Dove Give In To Mint ice cream. And so I clutch your hands in mine, looking earnestly into your eyes and hoping you'll understand.

I hate dieting. I hate exercising. I spend time writing in a journal like a teenager, wondering if I can possibly live a happy life without being able to eat as much as I want of whatever I want. There is going to be a lot--A LOT--of whining. You will think to yourself, "Is she dieting, or giving up crack? Because BEEZUS."

Right about now, some of you are feeling a rising urge to tell me that the key is NOT to diet, but rather to Make a Lifestyle Change! Do you know what a "lifestyle change" IS to me? It is a PERMANENT DIET. So that concept is not one that COMFORTS me as I stand here on the doorstep of the Diet House, preparing to ring the doorbell.

January 24, 2008

Jury Duty--Panicky Rant!

Ever since I hit age 18, I've been longing for jury duty. I love the whole concept of jury duty---possibly because I've never been called and don't yet realize how little it resembles the movie version. Paul's been called. My mom's been called. My dad's been called.

Guess who got called now?

I'm so cheesed off, because I would LOVE this. I have been WAITING for this. I would wear my cute, long, comfy-but-professional-looking skirt and my serious-looking black shirt. I would bring a book for the long boring waiting, and I would listen attentively during the cases. I would take notes on a little pad of paper. I would think carefully about whether my embarrassing tendency to choke up and cry during moments of any drama, happy or sad, would be a liability if I were made foreperson. I have it ALL PLANNED OUT.

But I don't see how I can manage it. I'm still nursing, for one thing, and Henry has never taken a bottle---nor, if history repeats the other four children, will he ever be willing to. Nor have I EVER been able to get more than an ounce or two with a pump (I'm sorry, is this way TMI?), even when I was successfully nursing TWINS. Nor do I own a pump anymore anyway.

So I looked into it, thinking I would basically say, "Sorry, I can't--I'm breastfeeding" before beginning a long, sad winter of looking resentfully at the children during the days I COULD have been on JURY DUTY if I hadn't had so many CHILDREN. But it turns out that only in four states is breastfeeding considered a legitimate reason to get out of serving jury duty, and my state isn't one of them. (My state says you should pump.)

Nor does my state consider it valid to say that you don't have someone to care for your children (their helpful suggestion: "Arrange care"), or that there is no way your husband is going to be able to take four weeks of unpaid leave so his WIFE can serve jury duty--EVEN IF that were remotely affordable, which it is not.

AND, the first week of jury duty is a school vacation week. Can you see me calling around, trying to arrange temporary childcare? "OH HAI. I need three weeks of full-time childcare for three children including a nursing infant who won't take bottles; plus one week of full-time childcare for five children! But maybe I don't, if they don't choose me because they think mothers are too sympathetic to criminals! Stand by just in case, though, okay? And I can pay you $25 per day before we go broke and lose the house!" (<-- slight exaggeration)

I don't understand how ANYONE affords doing jury duty. The section on financial hardship on the jury duty page says that they totally understand that it's a significant financial burden--but that it's one of our country's most important rights/responsibilities so it is essential to do it anyway. I'd say that's REALLY EASY TO SAY when you're getting paid full wages to say it!

This part of the court system is NO GOOD. Most people can't be away from their jobs for a month, even if finances aren't an issue. Most people are NEEDED at their jobs; that's why they get PAID TO BE THERE. Most people need the income from their jobs; that's why they WORK.

There are two changes that need to be made, in order that the United States citizens can serve duty without unfair hardship to some: (1) there needs to be a daycare service in the courthouse (this also allows nursing mothers to go nurse their babies during breaks), and (2) the pay for serving jury duty needs to be enough to live on---AT LEAST minimum wage.

You should see the form I filled out. Four pages of tidy, printed information about myself and my lack of criminal record, followed by one page of, essentially, "OMG PLEASE DO NOT MAKE ME DO THIS!!!": scribbled-out sections, arrows with explanations, and a final panicky line at the end that almost goes off the page. Then I SLIT THE ENVELOPE OPEN so I could go back and add more scribbles and miscellaneous freaking out and then tape it closed. Sigh. Maybe they'll dismiss me for OBVIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS.

January 23, 2008

Making Baby Food: It's Easy!

Boil some water.



Put in some food.
Here: frozen green peas, a pound and a half.



Put in some more food, if desired.
Here: a can of chick peas (also called garbanzo beans). These are canned, so they don't need to be pre-soaked and then cooked for ages. But I did rinse them.



Cook.
If cooking legumes, I've heard it reduces gassy side-effects if you remove some of the thick foam that accumulates in the middle.



Spoon food into the blender.
Or some people use a food processor. See those little chickpea skins? You can pick those out if you feel like it, but I don't bother. They blend up fine.



If your blender is like mine, it will prefer to be no more than half full. (This photo is actually from AFTER adding the water in the next step, but I thought you'd want to know FIRST about not putting too much food in the blender.)



Add some cold water.
This cools off the hot food (duh), and also makes the blending smoother (duh).



First on low speed.



Now on high speed.



Pour into containers.
I use 1-cup Ziploc plastic containers; sometimes I use 1/2-cup containers or ice cube trays if I'm making something fancy/expensive like berries or meats and want smaller portions.



Second half of the food into the blender, and repeat.



Put on lids.



Freeze.



Do the dishes.


Total time: 25 minutes from putting water in pan to drying hands--and during the process there was time to do other things, like doing other dishes while waiting for the food to cook. Yield: 7.5 cups of baby food. Sometimes I'll get two big pots boiling of different foods, so I can do them one after another through the blender: it adds 5-10 minutes to the process, and doubles the yield.

(Also see: Making Baby Food: Encore!)

January 22, 2008

Anonymous

Do you want to cross Swistle's mind again and again throughout the day? Do you want her to think about you and wonder about you as she is baking brownies, bathing children, running errands? Then leave a comment like THIS in her comment section:


Anonymous said...

Hi, Swistle! I'm a loyal reader and I just found out today that I am pregnant again! I haven't even told my husband yet. I'm just here to torture you and tease you....because soon we will need to discuss baby names for me. Soon. Like in a month when I tell everyone. Mwuu haa ha haaaaa

January 21, 2008

Multiple Choice

Let's say I regularly read US Weekly magazine---I am NOT saying that, but let's say for the sake of argument I did read an issue. And let's say I was reading an article about how very, very lucky a female celebrity felt because her husband was so kindly supportive of her goal to be as hot as humanly possible. And let's say I was perusing her sample daily menu, NOT that I would be interested in what is probably a PACK OF LIES.

And let's say I came to the part where she says she would normally eat Splenda-sweetened desserts, but can't because she's breastfeeding. Would I:

A) Assume that someone who thinks it's genuinely helpful and supportive when her husband says things such as "Are you sure you should be eating that?" doesn't know her skinny, well-toned ass from a hole in the ground?

B) Panic and consult Dr. Google?

C) First A, followed by a furtive version of B, followed by feeling really stupid for not sticking confidently with A?

January 20, 2008

Go Forth and Assist

You guys have been so awesome with other readers' issues, I wonder if I could add a couple more to your caseload? Click through for their posts on the problems.

1) Misty has an etiquette problem: another mom has asked to bring FOUR extra kids to Misty's child's birthday party. Misty needs a fast answer on this one, because she has to call the other mom back with an answer soon.

2) Donna has a children's clothing problem: where to find jeans that will STAY UP on a slim baby?

January 19, 2008

Baby Development

Cari emailed me on a subject dear to my own heart: worrying about baby development and milestones.

I know that you have mentioned before that your children were a little slow to reach their developmental milestones. My baby is 11 months old and is still not crawling. She rolls over and has excellent direction; and she has just started getting up on her hands and knees and rocking, but no crawling; and for sure no pulling up or standing. She has a few sounds, but no consistent words like mama or dada.

I'm wondering at what point I should start being concerned. (Well, more concerned than the near-constant mommy-worry that we all have.) She has been behind from the start in her gross motor skills, so I'm not extraordinarily surprised that she is where she is, but people are asking about it more often and I don't really know how to address it. I don't really feel like I need to address it to randoms who ask; but it is on my mind.

I know that babies develop at their own rates, but I guess I'm looking for reassurance that she really is okay and that others have been in similar situations.


Indeed, my kids have been "late end of normal" in their development. In a group of babies, my baby would be the one lying there like an enormous larva while the other babies skittered all over the floor.

Rob didn't crawl until he was 12 months old. Elizabeth didn't walk until she was 17 months old---and if she'd done it 2 days later, I would have had to say 18 months old. At 7.5 months, Henry has rolled over maybe a dozen times and never on purpose. NONE of my kids have been able to say as many words as they're supposed to be able to say on baby/toddler charts. They are all late, late, late.

I'm sorry, but the only way I can give reassurance here is to bring out some serious bragging. Saying "and they're turning out fine!" is insufficient: pretty much all parents think their children are brilliant and amazing, and for all you know my kids are drooling their way through school as I look on them fondly and tell you everything's fine, perfectly fine! So I must say more, but I will keep it brief: on national standardized tests, Rob and William are both coming up as top of the class. Also, I'm pleased to report that both of them can walk AND talk AND roll over.

So when SHOULD you worry? Because I am a chronic worrier (ever since reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child, I've been worried that we will be in such a terrible blizzard we will not be able to get back to the house from the barn) (we don't have a barn, nor have I ever lived anywhere with a barn) (but if we did, I would totally have a guide rope stretching between them), I like to turn over this kind of worrying to my pediatrician. I say to him outright, "I worry about everything. But I'm not going to OFFICIALLY worry until you tell me to worry." And about three times he's said, "It's not time to WORRY, but it's time to do a little extra investigation," and we do, and everything is fine. He says that, in general, as long as a child is continuing to make progress along the developmental timeline (even if the progress is slower and/or later than usual), everything is still fine.

I have been annoyed over the years by how SURPRISED people act at what is actually still within the normal range of development. "OH!" they say. "She's still not WALKING?" And their eyes get darty with surprise and alarm. "What does the DOCTOR say?" Or maybe someone says, "Let's see, 8 months--he must be crawling all over the place by now!" The prize goes as usual to my mother-in-law, who would ask if the baby was crawling yet, and then tell me AGAIN that children who crawl late tend to have learning disabilities. (Whuh? Even if this were true, why would she say so?)

And how should you deal with this sort of, um, concern? You could try hooking a leg behind the other person's ankles and giving a sudden sharp shove, as I fantasized doing many a time. Or, you can act surprised right back at them: "Well, no! But she's only 13 months!" (tone of voice communicates "Do you have a fever or something?").

For people who have genuine concern rather than the faked concern designed to make you feel bad, you can say that the pediatrician says there's a wide range of normal, and that he or she says your child is still well within that range. The words "well within" are not only comforting but also pointed: they communicate that not only is the concern unnecessary, it's a little on the ignorant side. You can look at them pityingly, give a little laugh and say, "Don't worry! I would tell you if there was anything wrong!" Like THEY'RE the big old worrywarts, while you yourself are laid-back and calm and definitely not lying awake at night fretting about how a larval child like yours will be able sit up at a desk.

Now. Perhaps you could chime in with your reassurances for Cari. Late bloomers who ended up fine or better than fine? (Or, sure, why not: early bloomers who ended up in prison and/or on drugs?)

January 18, 2008

Public Service Announcement: Baby Names

The "most popular baby names of 2007" baby name list put out by Baby Center is a TOTAL SHAM. It's based on survey results or whatevs from their readership.

The REAL list, put out by The Social Security Administration and based on birth certificates, will be out in May.

The more you know! *musical ding!*

January 16, 2008

Shopping Trip

My mom and I were already planning to go to Target today, but it was SaLy's report that the pink-puffy-skirted dresses were at 75% off that really put a fire under us.


The glorious pink-puffy-skirted dress. In fact, I bought TWO pink-puffy-skirted dresses (duplicate in larger size not shown) and a golden-skirted one. Pinks $4.48 each down from $17.99, and golden $4.98 down from $19.99.





I was really hoping to find these Model Magic sets at 75% off (last time they were at 50%), and I DID. William got a bunch of Model Magic from my parents for Christmas, and he has been using it night and day in a careful way that makes me want to buy him his weight in Model Magic--or at least keep him supplied with it.

The above sets are a stupid idea (you just smear Model Magic over plastic structures), but they come with a ton of packets of Model Magic. Even at 50% off they were a good per-ounce deal for the Model Magic; at 75% off, they're GREAT. I'm just throwing away the plastic structures. $4.98/set, down from $19.99/set.





I didn't know what I would DO with these cute Amy Coe nesting boxes, so I couldn't justify buying them until they were 75% off. Each set has three boxes with lids. $3.24/set, down from $12.99/set. Probably I will keep them for a long time and then finally use them as gift boxes.





An assortment of shirts for Elizabeth for next year or maybe the year after, all 75% off. $1.24-$2.48 each, down from $4.99-$9.99 each.





Cute rain boots for Elizabeth. Paul actually takes the children outside to play in the rain, because they enjoy it and he likes doing things they enjoy, whereas I like to do things I enjoy such as staying inside warm and dry with a book and a cookie. $3.74 down from $14.99.





Pack of 2 Carter's Just One Year sleepers for Henry, $3.74 down from $14.99. It's too bad they're "Just One Year," because it's Elizabeth who's really into dinosaurs but these only came in sizes up to 12m.





We also stopped at JC Penney, where I found this coat for Elizabeth for next year. $7.19 down from $49.99, though I have some doubt that anyone would have paid fifty bucks for it. The colors (called "Lily/Icy") are prettier in person. MUCH prettier. I don't even LIKE them in the photo. Free photography tips: Use good light! And don't use a crappy chair as your background!

January 15, 2008

Pillar Candles, and the Ways in Which They Disappoint

At the risk of sounding like I think I'm Seinfeld (and what an easy, easy mistake it would be to make!), what is the DEAL with pillar candles? I always think, "Yay, nice big candle!," but then the flame burns itself down into a deep narrow tunnel and drowns in melted wax. And it doesn't look pretty doing it, either.


The greenish one is actually BULGING OUT as it burns down.

I suppose I could keep carving off the top of the candle, to give the flame more breathing room. But what a waste of wax!

January 14, 2008

Ventlet

Paul has the day off from work today. Predictably, I got the kids dressed and fed while he took a shower, because I am ALL EXPLAINED OUT telling him that the bulk of the morning routine has to be done right away. Then he said he was going out on an errand. I still hadn't showered. The errand DID have to be done pretty early and WOULD benefit the entire family, so I said FINE. After all, I usually manage to take a shower without him home, so although it would be NICE to take a shower without having to constantly think of how much soap would still be on me if I had to leap out and drive naked to the emergency room with an injured child, I COULD do the usual anxious version.

In fact....it occurred to me that if Paul went on an errand, I could go to my computer with my coffee, without having to work steadily to emphasize the fact that I and only I was keeping our household afloat. So he left, and I got my coffee, and then I remembered the labor-intensive but delicious cookies I made last night. There were three left over. I'll just have THOSE, too.

Two gone. Smallest cookie left. Not only did he make his own care a priority and then take off, he ATE THE COOKIES.

January 12, 2008

The Stories We Hear

OKAY. I have a WORKING THEORY, everyone.

Long have I puzzled over this: WHY OH WHY do I hear so many new parents saying things such as "No one told me it would be this hard" or "No one ever talks about postpartum depression," when during my pre-parenting days I heard ALMOST NOTHING ELSE? Everywhere I turned, people were EAGER to tell me how crazy their children drove them, how little sleep they got, how painful labor was. In fact, if I hadn't had a "populate the earth" gene that switched on in my early twenties, I might have been talked out of the parenthood thing altogether. And yet not just one person but LOTS of people were saying there was some sort of conspiracy of silence.

While I was doing the dishes tonight (Tessie wants me to tell The Story of How We Don't Have a Dishwasher, but I already read you Goodnight Moon so THAT'S IT for tonight), I had a thought. I was very enthusiastic about having children, but many people are not quite so enthusiastic and maybe GIVE IT A MOMENT'S THOUGHT before springing into a state of life so SATURATED with children they can hardly sit down without squishing one. And what does the general public say, when people worry aloud about parenting? "It's different when it's your own!" "Oh, you can't imagine that kind of love until you experience it!" "Children are such a blessing!" "You forget the pain!"

So my working theory is that the general public is contrary and argumentative: if you think you want children, they will try talk you out of it by telling you the bad things; if you think you don't want children, they will try to talk you into it by telling you the good things. Thus, we get some people saying "No one ever told me I'd be so tired and angry and unhappy and that the baby would cry!" and other people saying "EVERYONE says that ALL THE TIME!"

And now that I have a hypothesis, we need to collect some data. These are the two things I need to know from you:

1) Were you enthusiastic and eager about children, or were you reluctant / conflicted / doubtful?

2) Did you hear mostly about how awful / painful / unhappy it would be and how you'd never sleep again, or did you hear mostly about how children were wonderful little miracles?

January 10, 2008

Essential Baby Gifts, With a Side-Rant About Registries

Sara is begging for our help:

Five of my very dearest friends are expecting children (all but one their first) and the baby (3 boys, 1 girl, and 1 unknown) showers are about to start...
I need HELP!

What does every new mom need? What can they not live without when the newborn arrives? What are good gifts for the baby? And maybe even the grandma or dad?!?

I'm dying over here.

My first shower is this coming weekend. I've been purchasing little outfits and such along the way when I find a great deal or sale. But I don't have anything major to show or give away... I want to do more than just get things off of the registry!

As far as price range goes... I'm open. Okay, I'm a true penny pincher & deal finder... but I know not all items are going to be able to be found on sale; sad-- but true. And... not only am I going to need gifts for the shower, but for when the baby arrives... those hospital visits, etc. etc. So I'll just pick & modify as necessary.

And I might need people to explain things... I'm a single girl... no nieces, nephews, or anything -- I might not know the baby supply code. But, I'm ready to spoil some babies & some mommies!


Well! Some parents receive more newborn outfits than their baby can ever use, and others get not one single outfit because everyone's heard that parents receive more newborn outfits than they can ever use. Some people have skilled friends and get a dozen hand-knitted baby blankets, and some people have non-crafty friends and get none. So you can see there is a "shot in the dark" aspect to this task. This is the nature of gift-giving.

Now I DO hope all of us already know that there is NO OBLIGATION to purchase from a registry. Registries are not some sort of ORDER that must be fulfilled. People are allowed to go out and buy anything they want to for the baby, without consulting the registry. The registry is to give ideas (to people who want to know), to inform people (who want to know) of your color/brand preferences, and to aid in avoiding gift duplication. Sometimes I have heard people--NOT YOU--bitching that it is "rude" to buy non-registry items, and that just about sends me TO THE MOON. The gift decision is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT up to the giver. If the parents receive something unwanted, the parents say, "Oh, how good of them to think of us!" and donate or quietly exchange the item WITHOUT huffing or whining or running to their rooms and slamming their doors. If the parents do not receive what they were hoping to get, the parents BUY IT THEMSELVES like grown-ups.

(Important Exception: If you have a tense discussion with someone about a particular item they think you need but you don't want to use--pacifiers, bottles, cloth diapers, swing, whatever--and then they buy it for you anyway, that IS rude. But it's rude because they're trying to coerce you into doing something, not because they didn't follow the shopping list you were trying to coerce them into buying from registry.)

That having been said (and MEANT, so don't let me hear any BACKTALK), a registry is a great way to make sure you don't choose someone a bouncy seat when they already have one, or buy them a swing when they are philosophically opposed to swings, or get them something in a pattern that clashes with their vision for their nursery. What I like to do is get a copy of the registry and see if there's anything on there that appeals to me to buy. If it's all, like, $40 booties and $50 blankies and $400 bassinets, I branch out on my own.

I also take into account the family I'm buying for. Are they poor, and is this their first baby? I aim for practical, and I spend more than I might normally. Are they well-off, and do they pretty much have everything they need? I buy something fun for them to try, or I buy an enormous pack of diapers and tie a rattle to the ribbon.

I told Sara that people vary WILDLY in what they think makes the best baby gifts, so let her have it! And since I ranted bitched chatted so long about registries, perhaps you'd better go back and re-read her question, because there's a lot of meaty stuff in there about gifts for other relatives, gifts to spoil the mommy, and baby things we can't live without--and she would rather NOT use the registry. So we are looking for helpful information OTHER THAN "Buy something off the registry." Like, if there WAS NO registry, what would you give as a new-baby gift? No, no! DON'T say she should really buy something off the registry! I am in NO MOOD!

January 9, 2008

Pee Sticks and Charting

I am still completely absorbed in your excellent stories about how you found out you were pregnant. And Erica, my love, move your fingers and tell me your story, too. You might think that after 60-80 stories I would no longer be interested, but YOU WOULD BE WRONG.

Perhaps while I'm busy reading, you could go visit my friend Mairzy, who has a discussion going about charting. I know Mairzy IN REAL LIFE, as they say. And why DO they say "in real life"? It will come as a surprise to some, but this IS real life, what we are doing right here. I am actually writing this IN REALITY, and you are reading it IN REALITY. Both of us are REAL people. But there isn't a very good term other than "in real life" to describe the people I know in a non-online way, so IRL will have to do. Maizy is my IRL friend, and she just started a blog, and she's writing about a subject dear to my heart, so perhaps you could pop on over there and let me get back to reading your pee-stick stories.

January 8, 2008

Pregnancy Tests: How'd You Find Out?

I was talking with a friend of mine about how VIVIDLY we remember each positive pregnancy test. I may have to struggle to remember how old I am or whether we're running low on flour, but I can tell you more than you would ever want to know about each time I discovered I was pregnant. I'll try to be briefer than that.

With my first, I was charting, so when I hit day 16 after ovulation I knew I didn't even have to take a test. I took one anyway. I leaned against the bathroom door, looking at myself in the mirror. My reflection didn't know what to think, either.

With my second, I was charting but had gotten to be such an AWESOME EXPERT, I was only keeping track between cycle-start and ovulation. I was upset that month, because we'd totally missed our chance. Then one night at bedtime I was feeling crampy, and I thought, "Oh, yeah. I should be getting my period any day now." I picked up my chart to count how many days there had been of this cycle. 32, 33, 34, 35, 36. I lay wide awake in the dark for a long time. I didn't have to take a test that time, either, and I did anyway.

With the twins, we'd been trying for a few months, and I was already getting into the rhythm of living in 2-week segments. We'd hit it RIGHT ON for two months, and the tests were still negative. I didn't have much hope for the third month. We were supposed to leave in a few minutes for an open house at William's kindergarten, and I impulsively took a test---just to get it over with. I don't remember anything about that open house.

With my fourth pregnancy, I had just weaned the twins and was waiting to get back on the Pill. I was supposed to start taking it on the first Sunday after my next period. I was waiting, waiting, waiting...where the heck is my period? It's been 30 days. 31. Maybe it's just interference from weaning hormones. 32. I took all four kids to the store so I could buy a test. An hour later, I was digging the twins' baby clothes out of the donation pile and putting them back into storage.

Now I hope you'll tell me yours. Feel free to use up as much comment section as you need. If you want to make a post of out it instead, leave a link in the comment section so I can go read it. I LOVE stories of Finding Out. I will read EVERY SINGLE ONE with RAPT ATTENTION.

January 7, 2008

SCORE!


Little girl shoes, 75% off at Target! It is hard to see in the TINY PICTURE, but there are three different kinds: a dark brown maryjane with pink flowers ("Jaye"), a medium brown t-strap with embroidered flowers ("Lolli"), and a lighter brown maryjane with pink flowers ("Kimani"). Normally I buy shoes only a size or two ahead, but what can I say? A gear slipped or something. I bought them in sizes 6-1/2 through 11, for $3.74 per pair.

January 5, 2008

Things That, Conversely, Make Me Feel Young

None of our furniture matches.

We don't have a bedroom set.

We have a small baby.

"Gimme More," which is the kind of song that usually makes me feel old, instead makes me feel young because I keep thinking it sounds EXACTLY LIKE Britney Spears is BURPING the word "more," instead of growling sexily as she intends. And thinking things are burps, and that burping is funny, is something I associate with the younger members of our household.

Because I started having kids earlier than what's usual for my area, I'm often the baby of the group of moms.

Paul saying, "I finally figured something out. Whenever I see one of your friends or an actress you say is our age, I'm always surprised. I just realized it's because I compare them to YOU, and you look so much younger, so they seem old." Good stuff, Paul! Keep up the good work!

January 4, 2008

Things That Make Me Feel Old

I've gotten interested in birds. I suggested to Paul that we should get a bird guide so we'd know what they were.

When I hear about a problem with teenagers parked in cars, I side with the police and the parents and the nearby homeowners.

I have lines like a child's drawing of a sunshine coming from the outer corners of my eyes.

I wish people wouldn't walk on our lawn.

I hate cars blasting music as they drive by.

I call it "blasting."

Cars full of teenagers make me nervous.

The Boxcar Children now seems scary to me (those kids are ON THEIR OWN!! OH NO!!") rather than thrilling.

The skin on my upper arms is starting to look...different.

Snow Days are bad news.

Some of the people in celebrity magazines look like children to me. Silly, full-of-themselves children, preening and damaging their characters by hearing about how "hot" they are.

I think about people's characters.

I'm nearly the age my high school boyfriend's mother was when I was dating him.

If I'd had a baby at 16, the baby would be able to vote in this year's election.

If I had a baby next year, I'd be high-risk because of "advanced maternal age."

January 3, 2008

Tease

Ug, you are all TOTALLY RIGHT: it is AWFUL to bring up some sort of huge emotional issue and then be a complete TEASE about it. I would HATE it if someone else did that. I'd be like, "Either spill it or shut it, sister!"

I'm sorry I ever brought it up at all! But trust me when I say it is the kind of thing where if you knew what it was, you'd just be like, "Oh. That." It's just one of a number of well-known issues people fight about and kill each other over: @b0rti0n, h0m0sexu@lity, what should be done about the envir0nment, cry-it-0ut p@renting.

It falls into that category of topics that pretty much everyone has a strong opinion on, and even if everyone loves each other and swears to be nice about opposing points of view, it's basically impossible. It's no one's fault, it's just a topic people really, really care about, and I myself have been known to hit the ceiling if I read even one of the "nice" remarks that tries to be diplomatic. It's such a dividing topic, people THINK they're being fair and understanding about it, when actually they are demonstrating a TOTAL LACK OF UNDERSTANDING ABOUT EVEN THE MOST BAS-----

Sorry.

I will TRY not to tease anymore. I know it's dreadful, and I hate when other people do it.

January 2, 2008

Too Hot to Handle

I'm so angry, I have a horrible adrenaline feeling in my throat, and my hands are cold and trembling, and my mouth is dry. And part of me would love to vent about it, but it's on my (short) list of topics to never, ever talk about. Every time I slip and talk about it anyway, I'm very, very sorry. It's one of my own Too Hot Issues.

Do you know how to find your own Too Hot Issues? I'll tell you how. It's when everyone on the other side of the issue seems like a raving, drooling moron, and you want to strangle every single one of them.

That's not compatible with my usual life outlook, which is that it's fine and natural for people to have different opinions, and that different lives are right for different people. Do I think you should be married, have five children, live in a raised ranch, and drive a minivan? Only if you want to, and there are a zillion other good lives if that life doesn't appeal to you. But do I think you should be on the same side of the Too Hot Issue as me? YES YES YES AND IF YOU'RE NOT I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT. See? Incompatible. I can't even tell you what the Too Hot Issue IS, because you might tell me where YOU stand--and even if you don't, I'll IMAGINE you telling me. It's TOO HOT for me to touch.

This leaves me with a problem. Usually, talking things out is one of my best tools for getting over a grouse. I was a roiling mass of acid over the Target Christmas tree until I told you about it, and after that I felt released from it: I went and cheerfully deleted all the correspondence I'd been keeping for my imaginary lawsuit, and I stopped thinking about it every time I thought of Christmas, and I stopped composing mental scripts for my imaginary service desk confrontation, and I just felt BETTER, you know? It was as if I did $25 worth of venting, and now I could let the wasted $25 go. I mean, I still resent it, but I can see it as a blip rather than as THE END OF ALL JOY.

Well, you know what ELSE helped with the Christmas tree crabbiness was shopping the 75% off section at Target. Which is what I did to try to deal with today's useless rage, especially since I'm not talking it out---even with PAUL, who is on THE SAME SIDE (but he draws the line at strangling the opposition, and if you are not FOR me you are AGAINST me). Anyway. I got something new at Target. Want to see? I finally found a Countdown to Christmas Calendar thingie I like, and it was 75% off:


Many such calendars are one-time-use, or they have not taken into account that a person might need adequate storage for FIVE little surprises each night before Christmas. This unit is of iffy quality (I found seven of them at two different Targets, and four of the seven had missing doors), but there's room in each little cupboard for more than one item.