Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cradle cap

Baby T has a raging case of cradle cap.  The scaliness that had been afflicting her eyebrows (!) with yellow flaky skin has cleared up on its own, but I'm hoping the stuff on her scalp will clear up faster if I follow internet advice to shampoo daily.  Normally, I believe in not over-washing babies (as one of our old pediatricians said when I asked him how often to wash C, "she's not dirty, is she?"), but Baby T has a really scaly scalp.  I just shampooed her and gave her scalp a good scrub with a baby wash cloth.  Some of the scales seem to have come off, but it looks like it's going to take quite a few days to get it to all come off.  I also bought some baby oil to treat her scalp, just in case the baby shampoo doesn't do the job.  (Up until today, I had only the haziest idea what baby oil is for.)        

In happier news, our car is back from the shop and I managed to get some groceries.


Here's some of what's happening:

  • The car is in the shop right now for its 100,000 mile maintenance as well as some repairs.  We hope to get it back by the end of business today and do some grocery shopping.
  • Yesterday, my husband and the kids built a robotic arm from a kit.
  • D, Baby T and I walked to a deli for coffee for me and then we walked to a playground.  It was windy and in the 40s, so we didn't stay very long, but there was a token visit.  There is some stuff within walking distance of our duplex (a BBQ place, Burger King, a deli, a greasy spoon, Cinnabon, the grocery store, a donut place, a playground, etc.) but it's a mostly depressing neighborhood. 
  • My husband put the Jumperoo together for Baby T.  She can't really jump in it yet (her feet don't quite touch the ground), but she can bounce a little.  She likes it OK for short visits, which is all we need.  We're all (especially D) a bit envious that there isn't a Jumperoo in our sizes (although I tell the big kids that those bungee cord trampoline things at the fair and the mall are a close approximation).    
  • Last night was the beginning of our big switch-over.  My husband moved Baby T's Pack N Play out of our bedroom and into his office and we slept alone, but with both doors open so we could hear Baby T crying.  I woke up at 4AM but went back to sleep until just before 7, at which point I fed Baby T until about 7:35AM and put her back to sleep in her SwaddleMe.  So far, so good.
  • The concern had been that if we moved Baby T prematurely, she'd have to get pretty loud before we heard her and she'd wake everybody in the building up before me.  That doesn't seem to have happened.  
  • I also will not be doing night feedings in our bedroom, so as not to wake my husband unnecessarily.  
  • We should probably repeat the experiment of having Baby T sleep in another room for a couple more nights before assembling the crib, at which point I get to start using the pretty crib sheets I bought before she was born (woohoo!).  We also need to do some minor rearranging of baby equipment (for instance, the diaper pail needs to move to the office).         

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Supporting breastfeeding

I was just reading the following over at The Fearless Formula Feeder's blog.

I am passionately in favor of better breastfeeding support.  But I believe the type of support that matters is NOT making sure that everyone really, really thinks women can and should breastfeed and telling women about all the harms their children will suffer if they don’t–I had plenty of that the first time around, and it caused nothing but failure and guilt.  Real support is making sure the professionals who are around new moms and babies (nurses, pediatricians, LCs, and OB/GYNs) know the mechanics of breastfeeding and can quickly and effectively recognize and treat common problems (latching issues, tongue tie, thrush, whatever).  How about toning down the first type of support and devoting more of our resources to the second for a while?
 I agree completely.  There's too much breastfeeding "awareness" and too little actual help and information.


It's all a blur, but we had a very busy Christmas Eve.  We did our last minute grocery shopping, secured a bigger tree (it's a potted juniper that the friends who delivered it would like to plant in their yard), decorated it, wrapped gifts, cooked dinner (fresh salmon, pomegranate seeds, chick peas, veggies, fried mushrooms and a large but very good bakery pecan pie), did a scriptural reading, did oplatki, ate dinner, opened gifts and had pie.

We are always a bit more at loose ends on Christmas Day.  We went to Mass at the Catholic student center and the kids worked on their toys.  C has already assembled a LEGO lighthouse (with an excellent light feature) and D has been enjoying the Middle Eastern architectural blocks we got for him.  Baby T is pretty easy-going during the day time, but she goes into a feeding frenzy in the evening, probably because that's when my milk supplies are at their lowest.  My husband made Thai meatballs for dinner for Christmas Day, which we had with some surprisingly good brown rice.    

Today we awoke to outdoor temperatures in the mid-20s (thank goodness our heating system is finally working).  D and I walked over to Burger King to get me some coffee and then went to the playground for a short visit.  Then we went to the grocery store to get vanilla ice cream, as that will be very good with the apple dumplings we hope to be making with company tonight.        

Children of Men

I got the February 2013 issue of Country Living (their white issue!).  There are many interesting interiors with lots of white, neutrals and dark brown or black accents.  Anyway, one of the ads at the back of the magazine caught my eyes.  It's for a 22" long poseable collectible baby doll (not a toy, they hasten to remind you).  I found the ad 50% sad, 50% disturbing.  From the ad copy:

  •  She turns toward you with a look of pure love!
  • Touch-activated to look up at you as you hold her in your arms
  • ...Chloe responds to your touch!
  • Few things are as precious as the first time your baby responds to your touch by turning her little head towards you with the most trusting, unquestioning love that only a baby can give!
  • Feel her soft RealTouch skin, wiggle her little toes, smooth her delicate wisps of hair, and experience  that special bond that only you two share every time she looks at you.   

Thursday, December 20, 2012

First day of vacation

Here's some of what's happening:

  • This is the kids' first full day of vacation.  We invited a family with four kids over and rolled, baked, decorated and ate gingerbread cookies.  The recipe calls for chilling the dough for three hours, so this project requires some premeditation.  We also needed to pull out some cookie cutters from the playdough box and wash them up.  The kids' favorite cutters were (I think):  bells, snowmen, reindeer, stars, angels, teddy bears, camels, gingerbread men, tropical fish and owls.  We also had a squirrel and a doggy, I believe.  I own a lot of cookie cutters.        
  • This was the first time we've used my new non-stick pastry mat and non-stick rolling pin.  I didn't do much rolling (I was mainly running the oven and organizing everybody).  The other mom reports that the mat worked great but the non-stick rolling pin wasn't that impressive.  I screwed up and bought a non-stick rolling pin with silicone handles, rather than a silicone rolling surface.  The mat has circles showing various crust dimensions for tarts and pies--very helpful.
  • We'd like to do apple dumplings as our next playdate project.  
  • My husband and the kids have been watching Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010).  It's about prehistoric French cave paintings and it's really good.  Our ancient ancestors were very artistic.    

Easy Bake Oven

There was a big to-do over a 13-year-old girl who persuaded Hasbro to make a boy-friendly Easy Bake Oven for the benefit of her 4-year-old brother.  Very sweet, of course, but I share the grinchy thoughts of the mother of one of Joanne Jacobs' commentors:  "We have an 'easy-bake' oven.  It's in the kitchen.  Here, I'll teach you how to make dinner in it!"  A real oven is no good for an unassisted 4-year-old, of course, but a 4-year-old wouldn't be able to use an Easy Bake oven by himself anyway.


I was just listening to the Monday Dave Ramsey show.  There was a caller whose wife had co-signed on a $20k+ car five years ago for a SIL.  The SIL had just stopped making payments and the caller wanted to know what to do.  There was still $20k+ left on the car loan after five years (???) and the interest was 20%.

Man, poor people are surprisingly good eating.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Old shoes

Here's some of what's happening:

  • My husband and I are watching Barton Fink.  I'm kind of a sucker for movies where the theme is artiste-discovers-he's-not-all-that.  See also Bullets over Broadway and Adaptation.  
  • We packed up our photobooks and my husband got them mailed out.  I also did my last Christmas internet orders, although we still have some stuff to buy in town.
  • In less pleasant news, we're starting to think that we had several Christmas presents stolen off our balcony.  UPS says the items were delivered some days ago, but we haven't seen them.  'Tis the season for ripping off little kids' toys, I guess.  Somebody thought The Grinch That Stole Christmas was an instructional video.  (Amazon is being very helpful, by the way, even though it isn't their fault at all.)        
  • I have lately been going to bed at a normal grownup time (11-12PM) and waking up at 6AM with no 4 or 5AM wakeup.  I feed Baby T (whether she's awake or not) and then find it's too late to go back to bed.  I've been putting Baby T back to bed and then helping get the kids ready for school.  What I'll do during Christmas break with that early morning time, I have no idea.
  • It sounds like we're going to be hosting a gingerbread cookie making party soon!  C also wants to do an apple dumpling making party.
  • The kids' school is doing a used shoe drive.  Our shoes get worn out, so we didn't have any to donate, but that issue seems not to have stopped other families.  Yesterday, C and her classmates were pairing up and rubber banding donated shoes.  "Some people don't know the meaning of 'gently used'," said one 5th grade girl.      

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Photobooks and gingerbread house

Here's some of what's happening:

  • The cafeteria closed after lunch today.  *Sniff*  I guess we're going to have to cook again, eventually.  
  • In happier news, we have almost another week of the campus Starbucks being open.  They'll be closed about 1.5 weeks for the break.  
  • Yesterday, my husband and I finished editing the photobooks that we give out to our adult relatives as their Christmas present.  We did one photobook with few (but large) photos for my grandma, paperback copies of that for C and D, and then a bunch of photobooks with lots of smaller photos.  He picked up the photobooks today and we'll try to mail them out on Monday.  We have a number of very nice photos with each of the big kids and Baby T.  I sorted through well over 1,000 photographs to get the ones I chose. 
  • It looks like Christmas cards are going to be going out late if at all.  
  • My husband finished his grading Thursday.  His new 8-cornered academic hat for wearing at graduation is very fetching--it looks like something you'd wear at the Unseen University.  
  • Last night the kids saw a gingerbread house kit at Walmart and were enchanted.  They each paid $4 for it and they put the house together this afternoon.  The roof broke, but construction was very enjoyable and the house wasn't bad tasting, either.  (Careful with the hard candies, though--those feel like they could cause expensive dental work.)  I'm planning on having a wall later tonight, maybe with some chai.    
  • The big kids are almost done with school.  
  • The spammers are really out in force.  Get your own blogs, you virtual tapeworms. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012


We told C she wouldn't be able to touch Baby T at church, due to all of her touching of germy surfaces and people.  C wanted to know, "Why does daddy get to hold Baby T?"

Friday, December 7, 2012


I was doing some Christmas shopping at Barnes and Noble and found myself buying a copy of Consumer Reports' kitchen issue.  I liked this:
But given its susceptibility to staining and scratching, marble isn't for everyone, cautions Jonas Carnemark, a design-builder in Washington, D.C., who is certified by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.  "Designers talk about patina, but you have to remember that's just a fancy term for scratches and stains," he says.
Quartz for me!  (By the way, I was just looking at the Caesarstone site and was surprised to discover that 1) it's an Israeli company and 2) their factory is owned by a kibbutz.

Paper lanterns

C has been in a paper lantern-making frenzy.  She made a long string of small one for our eventual Christmas tree and she hung several over Baby T's car seat.  (I removed those.)  

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Here's some of what's happening:

  • The repair guys came yesterday.  They're waiting for a part and they will allegedly be coming back today for the final repair.  This has been taking literally weeks.  It hasn't gotten cold indoors, but it's not a good feeling knowing that 1) the heat is not working and 2) the outdoor temperature is in the mid-30s.
  • Baby T has been doing a lot of smiling.
  • She said something yesterday that sounded like "A-goo-gah!"  Today, when she was crying and wanting to be picked up she said "Ma!"  I know this doesn't mean anything semantically at her age, but I don't think I've heard consonants from our kids this early.  
  • Baby T had a feeding at 11 PM last night and then after 6 AM.  Good job, Baby T! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Good news, bad news

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Everybody but Baby T has been having respiratory trouble and has their own antibiotics (my husband has finished).  D had a chest x-ray and they found a spot of what might be pneumonia on his lung.  C, D and I are all on antibiotics, and D has an inhaler.
  • However, I'm starting to feel better (I'm supposed to have a sinus infection) and the kids made it to school today.  
  • Our heating still doesn't work.  The repair guy appeared this morning, took our heating system to be checked, and then disappeared.  I haven't seen him since.  That's pretty much how it's been for weeks now.  The landlord's office employs repair people for whom maintaining these apartments is their second job, which explains why it's so difficult to get anything complicated done.  Also, have I mentioned that the property management staff is all 20-somethings?  Also, I have other items I would like to have fixed, but the heating is so important that I don't want to distract them from the most urgent business.  [THEY'RE HERE!  HALLELUJAH!]
  • Good news:  it's not that cold.    
  • C has permission to type assignments in class, as she finds it difficult to handwrite long assignments.  We will be setting her up with my netbook, which is a nice size and weight.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Baby T socializes

Baby T has been doing a lot of smiling lately.  She also copies us when we make big open mouths at her.  This evening, she also said "ma-ma" or something similar.  Now, I know that "ma-ma" at her age has no semantic content, but I wasn't expecting to hear her use consonants so early.    

Sick Sunday

Here's some of what's happening:

  • My husband is the only one who got to church this morning, as I had a fever last night, C was feverish yesterday and D's temperature is marginal.  Hopefully everybody will be clear to go to school tomorrow.  It's HARD to make up 5th grade.  
  • I made a very rare visit to the family medical practice yesterday (so rare, in fact, that I had a huge pile of papers to fill out).  The doctor diagnosed me with a sinus infection and so I'm starting a 10-day course of antibiotics.  And not a minute to soon--I had a 101.9 temperature the evening after my appointment.
  • C microwaved her first Chinese take-out while I was feeding Baby T this morning.  *Sniff*  I'm so proud.  
  • C also made some more stuffed dates this morning and cleaned up pretty well.  
  • D has been reading The Chronicles of Narnia and is currently on The Horse and His Boy.  
  • Baby T continues to resist the swirling bacteria and viruses--tfoo tfoo.  
  • Our outdoor temperatures are in the high 70s, making our non-working heating fortunately moot.  Unfortunately, the warmth has made our local insect life more vibrant IYKWIM.  Last night, I was doing Baby T's 4 AM feeding when I noticed a medium-sized roach on the wall.  I got up my husband and we hunted it down.  You'd think we'd be safe from these incursions in early December.    

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fruit kebab

I forgot to mention something C did this morning on her own initiative.  She took a wooden skewer from a drawer and made herself a fruit kebab with slices of apple, mandarin slices, and raspberries.  It looked great.

School mornings

Here's some of what has been happening:

  • The big kids have been waking up way early in the morning, quickly eating, packing lunches and dressing, and then taking turns out on the hammock.  C likes to swing on the hammock with her new Starbucks nutcracker teddy bear (she bought it herself with her own funds) and her Kindle.  (Have I mentioned that our recent morning temperatures have been in the high 30s?)  I had no idea that buying and installing a hammock on the deck would be the answer to slow school mornings.
  • The downside of the kids' love of the hammock is their childish propensity for leaving the door gaping open longer than necessary.  This would not be a big deal, were it not for the fact that our heating system continues to disappoint.  We were having 80 degree temperatures outside only a week or two ago, so we are only now discovering that the heating system starts working and then cuts off after 5-12 minutes.  We've had three maintenance visits so far and it isn't fixed yet.  We are beginning to suspect that it's going to require a major repair.  I'm expecting yet another day of hanging around the house, waiting for the maintenance guys.  (They can come and go without us, but after so many visits without a permanent fix, it's important that we understand exactly what they are doing and what the deal is with our heating.)  On the bright side, our duplex unit is of modern construction and seems very well insulated.  We have been able to keep it tolerably warm just by running the dryer a couple times and keeping lots of incandescent lights on.  I think our old rental was much draftier.  However, for all the excellent insulation, even the duplex feels chilly in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning with no heating.    

Long sleep

We did a last feeding at 11 PM last night.  I fell asleep and then the next I heard of Baby T was at 6:20 AM.  She was rustling and wiggling, but not crying, so I fed her at 6:50 AM.  So far, that's Baby T's personal best for sleeping.  She is now 7 weeks old.  Her range of activity is changing.  Rather than sleeping round the clock like a kitty on my lap or shoulder, she's 1) starting to be able to nap in the bassinet (but it's not an official nap yet) usually in the middle of the day and 2) is starting to have greater demands for entertainment than a warm parental body.  She had a big nap in the middle of the day yesterday and I probably should have tried to do likewise, but as they say, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.  I also had her in a fleece sleeper (the kind that's a bag with no legs) in the morning yesterday and she kept nice and warm and happy.

This sleeping through the night is a big deal for me, as I've found it very difficult to get back to sleep at 3 or 4 or 5 AM while listening to Baby T's grunting and rustling, so I'm awake for a long time after feeding her.  The first night's stretch is much easier--I'm out like a light and I sleep like a rock.  (Apologies for the cliches--I'm using them because they are accurate.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The heat is out...again

There is a downside to living in a duplex managed by 20-somethings.

Sleep notes

Baby T has been refusing the bottle at her 11 PM feeding for several nights now.  My husband suggested that we take the plunge and deem her to be starting her night's sleep after her 9 PM feeding.  We did that last night and it was a success--she fed around 9 PM and then around 4 AM and then again before 8 AM.  Our adult night schedule needs to be adjusted accordingly.  We should put Baby T down for the night after her 9 PM feeding and then go to bed ourselves at a reasonable time (10 something?).

Our bedtime routine for Baby T is a SwaddleMe, some vibration for 5 minutes, and a heavy rain sound effect played on my Kindle Fire.  (I like the rain sound effect, too, especially when trying to get back to sleep around 5 AM.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Our hammock is now installed and the big kids have been taking turns enjoying it.

Apple Dumplings

This was one of our more ambitious projects.  C and I (with help from D) made a cinnamon/nutmeg syrup, mixed and rolled out the dough, cored and peeled six apples, placed them on 6" X 6" squares of dough, sprinkled them with a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, wrapped them up in dough and then baked them for 45 minutes.  We had curry for dinner and then the apple dumplings for dessert, served with a choice of either cinnamon/nutmeg syrup or some of the ginger syrup left over from our candied ginger project.

I had a lot of concerns about the success of the crust, but this was a very successful project.  I'm considering doing it as a playdate project.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chocolate peppermint delicious

The kids have been on a cooking kick.  Tonight's project was chocolate peppermint delicious.  It's roughly the same as in this recipe, but our 1955 reprint cookbook calls for whipped cream, not Cool Whip.  It's so 1950s to have a kids' dessert recipe that has you start with cookies, candy, and whipping cream!

Our next scheduled project is more ambitious:  apple dumplings.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Craft fair

Here's some of what's happening:

  • I had a large, lively roach jump out of the mailbox at me this evening.  Yuck!  That's the price we pay for having 70+ degree days late into October.
  • The local quasi-Amish intentional community/commune/cult (opinions vary) has a big craft fair Thanksgiving weekend.  This was our first big family outing where the plan was that I was going to nurse Baby T while out.  We did it!  My husband was in charge of the big kids and I went off to nurse in our car.  Finding the car proved surprisingly difficult.  After painstakingly going up and down several rows, I eventually discovered I was in the completely wrong parking lot.  But once I found the car, it was surprisingly comfy and private to do basic baby care there.  It was a chilly day outside and I had talked everybody except myself into warm clothes.  I had my Pashmama cover and as I was feeding Baby T, I realized that I could use the Pashmama shawl as an extra layer, which turned out very well. 
  • Next step--try a day trip to Dallas or Ft. Worth, maybe during Christmas break.  
  • The kids made brass spoons at the forge and pretzels.  C made a soap ball and D dipped a candle.  C was planning to do more crafts, but our time ran out.  Maybe next year?
  • C and my husband had funnel cake and D and I enjoyed hot cider and hot apple cider doughnuts at the craft fair.  They were very good.       
  • Upon our return home, we found that our paracord had arrived.  This very important item is what we need for hanging our new hammock on the balcony.  The hammock is going to be ready for use tomorrow.  We were originally inspired by our neighbors, who have a hammock on their balcony.  Also, on campus, students install their hammocks on live oaks and hang in there as if they were huge mutant cocoons.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vacation begins for real

This is my husband's first day of break.  The kids have the whole week off for Thanksgiving, but this is the real beginning of break.  Here's some of what's happened:

  • C made stuffed dates from a recipe in a vintage kids' cookbook last night.
  • Baby T and I slept until 9 AM.  Once again, her longest stretch of sleep at night was right around 6 hours.  I'm not sure exactly when her night sleep begins (9ish?), but we wake her up at our bedtime for a feed.
  • Baby T seems to have a longish nap in the middle of the day, as well as lots of less organized sleep throughout the day.
  • Baby T has gone from a pattern of mostly bottle-fed (with breastfeeding for snacks) to a pattern of being mostly breast-fed (with a bottle at bedtime or on excursions).  I still haven't tried feeding her while out and not at the doctor's office.  
  • So far, my blood sugar results (I've done four sticks) have been very good.
  • My husband dropped me and the three kids off at a nice suburban HEB and we foraged for Thanksgiving supplies while he went to see his doctor for a persistent cough.  I'll note for the future that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is not a good time to go shopping at an unfamiliar grocery store with all three children or to see the doctor, but we did pretty well.  I was able to find some thin cotton sleepers for Baby T and around the time the big kids and I were starting to wilt, we stopped shopping and got lunch supplies at the HEB deli.  Eventually, my husband appeared, ate his sandwich, and we headed to the pharmacy and then home.  
  • One of the items the kids found at the store was a pomegranate.  Interestingly, she and D were able to open it up, collect the seeds and clean up afterwards.  It was a very lengthy project.  
  • In general, I'm seeing that it's now possible to just let the kids do kitchen projects with minimal supervision.      
  • Later in the afternoon, C and I did a drop-off at Goodwill, picked up stuff at the pharmacy and then went to Starbucks.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

6 hours!

Here's some of what's happening:

  • I had my six-week postpartum visit yesterday.  After six weeks of baby focus, I now have a long list of things to do to fix me.  For the near future, I need to remember to do a fasting glucose test in the morning, take a prenatal vitamin, take an aspirin (I've got a superficial blood clot near my knee that's making the area very sensitive to pressure), do a glucose test two hours after breakfast and then (if I can manage it) take a hot bath in the evening to soak my knee.  I've left sticky notes all over the house to remind me to do everything.  I'm doing a two-hour glucose tolerance test at the lab next week, so hopefully I'll learn that my gestational diabetes has resolved and I'll be able to stop doing blood sugar checks.  I've done two blood tests so far and the results have been very good (even after the big bowl of oatmeal which was a no-no during my third trimester).  It would also be nice if the blood clot resolved with just aspirin and wet heat.        
  • Baby T slept 6 hours straight last night, followed by probably a 2.5 hour stretch in the morning.  Do we put up the crib now in my husband's office, or is it too early? 
  • The big kids have the whole week off.  They were doing Mindstorms this morning.
  • Our house closing is supposed to be in six months, believe it or not. 
  • I've bought several books about backyard stuff for kids (play equipment, tree houses, play houses, ziplines, trampolines, sandboxes, etc.).  Setting something up for the kids is going to be one of our first orders of business after we move in.  It's a tough call what we should put in, as there's such a big split in age between the big kids and Baby T and the yard isn't that big.  We definitely want a BIG netted trampoline, we have a number of plastic toddler toys out on loan to other families, and I'm thinking a sand-and-water table would be nice, but I'd like some other stuff, too.  C really wants a zipline, and I'd like some sort of play structure (climbing wall, roofed raised platform, etc.).  The good stuff suitable for big kids is unfortunately also rather expensive.      

The Hobbit

Around here, we are unhappy that Peter Jackson is going full-Lucas with his plans for a three part (three part!!!) Hobbit movie.  My husband suggests that his next project should be a three-movie retelling of the Three Little Pigs story and that the individual three-hour films should be entitled House of Straw, House of Sticks and House of Brick.  I really like the suggested movie titles, which sound like foreign films (see Man of Marble and Man of Iron).  

Sunday, November 18, 2012


The candied ginger in syrup has been sitting in the fridge since yesterday.  This afternoon, the kids and I mixed up this gingerbread cake.  I made cream cheese frosting.  While we waited for the cake to cool, the kids cut up some of the candied ginger into small bits.  After the cake cooled, C and I frosted it.  Then she (with a little help from D) spread candied ginger over the frosted gingerbread cake.  C, my husband and I all liked the gingerbread.  D liked the frosting and ginger but not the cake, which had one full cup of molasses in it and was very dark.  I was expecting the candied ginger to be overpowering and excessive, but with such a thick cake, it really wasn't.  The crunchy texture of the candied ginger is also very interesting.  This is the first frosted cake I've made in probably...decades, actually.

We are left with two large baby food jars of candied ginger in syrup, plus some odds and ends in a pan.

Crib Aquarium

The crib aquarium has arrived.  There is good news and bad news.  The bad news is that (as the internet had warned) much of the water inside had evaporated.  This design flaw probably explains why the item is no longer on the market.  However, there is lots of good news.  My husband (following the steps on a youtube video) was able to refill the crib aquarium with boiled purified water and it's (hopefully) as good as new.  The even better news is that the crib aquarium is everything we'd hoped for.  We owned and loved a previous version when C and D were infants (we and the babies loved it, but it leaked), but this is so much better.  There's a huge shiny fish that swishes in a realistic fishy manner, another moving fish, a moving crab, seaweed that undulates, bubbles, music (that plays for 18 minutes!), ocean noises, and peaceful glowing lights.  It is fantastic.  Last night, the big kids and I and Baby T were all sitting in a dark bedroom entranced by the new crib aquarium.  C and I love it and would like one of our very own.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Candied ginger

Inspired by the gingerbread loaf at Starbucks, we are planning to make a home version.  It will have three components:  the gingerbread loaf itself, cream cheese frosting and candied ginger on top.  I did the shopping this morning with C and right now, we're working on the candied ginger.  The kids (especially C) peeled a pound of fresh ginger root with spoons (that's the method recommended by the recipe author!) and I have sliced it very thin and have been boiling and simmering and draining it.  After two rounds of that, we'll cook it again with water, sugar and a bit of salt.  It's supposed to keep up to a year in the refrigerator in syrup and several months at room temperature stored in sugar.  I bought two large containers of banana baby food for the jars and plan to use those for storage for any excess.  You can apparently use the candied ginger and the syrup in a wide variety of delicious baked goods.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Baby sleep

We've stopped setting alarms for middle-of-the-night feedings and are letting Baby T regulate her feedings.  Last night's result was a stretch of about five hours of sleep (11ish to 4ish), followed by some early morning choppiness.  I can't exactly recall what happened, but she was unsleepy after her 4ish feeding, but eventually went to sleep.  I slept from 5 something to 6 something.  When she woke up around 6 something, I handed her off to my husband and claimed the office/sensory deprivation chamber with the air mattress, which is where my husband had been sleeping.  I think I got just over an hour of sleep after that.  That last undisturbed hour was important.

As many people have observed, babies are actually very loud at night, with lots of snuffling and rustling.  While our first 4 hour block of sleep is pretty reliable, I find the second block is both shorter and of lower quality, as I tend to lie awake, being neither adequately rested nor sleepy enough to drift off again without major effort.  We are currently trying to figure out when to move Baby T out of her Pack N Play bassinet in the master bedroom and into the new crib in the office.  The crib is currently in a box and not assembled, and once it is assembled, the office will magically transform into Baby T's nursery, so this is a practically irreversible step.  The office is the bedroom closest to the master bedroom, but it's not adjacent--there's an intervening hallway.  My concern is that if we move Baby T into a separate room too soon (even with both bedroom doors kept open), the downstairs neighbor who sleeps directly below will hear her crying way before we do.  So ideally, I'd like her to be reliably sleeping 5-6 hours at a time before we move her down the hall to the office.  I think that's in sight, but we're not there yet.  We're also waiting for this crib aquarium, which we owned previous versions of for C and D.  It's hideously expensive for a baby toy ($50 or so), but it has very high reviews and the lights and music run for up to 18 minutes.          

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Last night was our first night of not being required to wake Baby T for feedings (she's one month old now).  I'd been looking forwarding to sleeping 5 or maybe even 6 hours at a time, as 4 hours is just enough to keep me from falling back asleep after the 3AM feeding.  However, last night she woke up naturally at more or less the intervals that we were imposing on her.  We shall see if this continues.


Here's some of what's happening:

  • My parents are visiting from the West Coast and came over this morning.  D spent much of the day at a classmate's birthday party.  C, my parents and I drove out to the ranch and my parents and I watched C's group riding lesson.  C was practicing some difficult maneuvers for the show (going around barrels, backing around corners, dealing with various obstacles, etc.)  At the end of her lesson, she and some classmates went for a ride together in the big field, which she's only done a handful of times.    
  • We four returned home, turned over the car to my husband (who went to pick up D from the birthday party) while C, Baby T, my parents and I walked over to the neighboring BBQ place for lunch.
  • Eventually, we were all home together.
  • My dad talked to C about irrational numbers and bigger and smaller infinities and quizzed both kids on squares (11 times 11, etc.).  He also got a chance to fly a plane on the Wii and to play cards with D.  
  • Later in the afternoon, I drove my parents closer to campus to see our future house, the empty space where our old rental house used to be, and the spectacular new residence hall and dining hall that are going up a couple blocks away from our future home.  

Friday, November 9, 2012


Here's some of what's happening:

  • My husband and I have been indulging in a Swedish cop show.  I am very fond of Wallander, the title character, as well as trying to figure out a little Swedish grammar.  I don't think the mysteries are that mysterious, but the cops-and-robbers suspense is very well done.
  • My husband has been out sick much of the week.  
  • Now that the kids are well, they've been able to snuggle with Baby T.
  • My parents are going to be here for the weekend.  Tomorrow's schedule is going to be very intricate.
  • I bought provisions today and was very pleased to see that Blue Bell is selling Spiced Pumpkin Pecan ice cream.  I bought a half gallon and was not disappointed.  If any of you live within the Blue Bell distribution zone, give it a whirl.  
  • I did some floor washing, mended some pajamas, mended C's red kimono costume and got ready for company.  
  • As of tonight, we'll finally be able to let Baby T sleep to her heart's content (the doctor had told us to wait until she was a month old).  It's going to be very exciting to see exactly how long that's going to be.  We actually sleep a very respectable number of hours a night, but I have a lot of trouble getting back to sleep after the 3AM/4AM feeding.
  • Baby T took a couple of very long bassinet naps today, rather than just catnapping on her parents. 
  • She has been routinely doing two or three breastfeeding sessions a day and continues to be able to go back and forth between breastfeeding and the bottle without any difficulty.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I'm not totally sure what happened this weekend.

  • I did parent-teacher conferences on Friday.  
  • Saturday, my husband took all three kids to watch a parade and I did grocery shopping.
  • I got to sleep until 11 AM this morning, after spending the wee hours of the night listening to Baby T snuffling in her bassinet.  Then we somehow made it to Mass for 11:30 AM.  
  • Sunday, my husband took the two big kids roller skating.  They also did laser tag.  C was really good at it.  Meanwhile, I carried the big red jogging stroller up and down the outside stairs and Baby T and I did the 20-block round trip to the student coffee house.
  • Baby T continues to show a lot of talent with her feeding.  We have been doing 2 or 3 breastfeeding sessions the past several days, with expressed milk in a bottle for the other feedings.  I prefer bottle feeding for early morning or when there's any time pressure.  Fortunately, Baby T is quite competent either way, so we can choose.  This is very promising as far as future travel is concerned, although I haven't had any practice yet with trying to feed her anywhere besides home or the doctor's office.  
  • The big kids have been very eager to hold Baby T on the sofa while watching TV.  D wanted to bottle-feed her earlier today.  C continues to be disgusted at the idea of it being my milk in the bottles.  "No offense, mom," she told me earlier.
  • Baby T is getting more interested in mobiles.          

Thursday, November 1, 2012

D's calendar

Here's some of what's happening:

  • C and D went to the children's party at the campus Catholic student center last night.  C was wearing a red and gold kimono and D was wearing a ninja costume.  (C originally wanted to be a ninja, too, but the costumes in her size were sold out.  She has been getting a lot of wear out of her red and gold kimono.)  C is also the proud owner of a red Chinese parasol and is waiting for a fan to be delivered.  During her illness, she enjoyed reading out on the deck under her parasol.  
  • Baby T and I have been managing 2 or 3 direct feeds a day.
  • Yesterday morning, Baby T and I met a mom friend, a nearly two-year-old and another newborn at the zoo.
  • Early this afternoon, I managed to get my big red jogging stroller down the stairs.  I made a second trip upstairs for Baby T and we did the 20 block round trip to the campus coffee house.  Then I took Baby T out of the stroller downstairs, went upstairs with her, and then made a second trip to bring up the jogging stroller.  It's 20 pounds, a fact which is balanced by the fact that it has a very smooth ride and is easy to push.      
  • We generally feed baby T around 11PM, around 3AM and around 7AM.
  • Baby T is very wide-awake right now.  She still sleeps a lot during the day.  I am plotting for a nap of my own.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Back to school

Here's some of what's happening:

  • The big kids were both back at school today, for the first time in over two weeks.
  • Baby T and I took a walk this morning to the college coffee house.  I got her down the stairs in her car seat and then took the universal carrier out of the car trunk and off we went!  That was 20 plus blocks round trip. 
  • I also managed full chauffeur duties today, earning me the car.  I took my husband to work, picked the kids up from school, and picked my husband up from work.  

Bottles 101

Late last night/early this morning we were having a very slow bottle feed.  Baby T was making almost no progress even after 30 minutes of steady sucking.  Much, much later I did some experiments and discovered that when turned upside-down two of our bottle nipples do not drip milk at all.  (I eventually remembered that Penelope Leach, the British baby guru, says that nipples should drip milk rapidly when turned upside-down.  She also says to make sure to test the nipples with milk or formula, not water, as fluids perform differently.)  It took much too long to figure out the difference, but once I brought a fresh bottle with a new, faster nipple, she chugged it down very fast.  It was a nasty 3:30 AM lesson, though.    

I am trendy!

C is officially fever-free and and we made it to the cafeteria last night.  Looking around the dining hall, I noticed how many students were wearing plaid flannel shirts.  I am trendy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Moby Dick

C is home for her sixth straight day out of school, although there's no fever yet today and I'm hoping she's going back to school tomorrow.  After a bunch of Wii, C is reading Moby Dick.  I continue to wonder what she's getting out of it.

C says:  "I think the chapter about whiteness is very interesting."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Baby T's baptism

Here's some of what's happening:

  • We had Baby T's baptism on Saturday evening.  C was sick, so she and I stayed home.  In attendance were my husband, D, Baby T, the godparents, their four children, an expectant grad couple and our parish priest.  Baby T was very well behaved through Mass and her baptism, including being splashed.  The godparents' younger daughter made Baby T a very pretty rosary.  
  • We had a small reception planned at a bakery.  I wasn't there, but there were supposed to be pastries (almond, chocolate, blueberry, cream cheese), several different varieties of fruit cake sample, coffee and water.  When I met the manager last week, he told me that the pastries would be coming out of the oven 30 minutes earlier.  The party also scored some free chili, as it was the end of the day.  There were leftovers brought home for me and C.  The pastries were very good.  
  • C is still sick by school standards (she was at 100.3 earlier today), but she hasn't hit the 100.4 today that was going to be the signal for calling the doctor tomorrow and beginning treatment for bronchitis (that's what we were told to do when we saw the doctor Saturday AM).  Hopefully she'll be back in school Tuesday.     
  • The weather has suddenly turned chilly and we are having lows in the 40s in the morning.   
  • Baby T and I made a long expedition to the college coffee house, with her in the car seat/universal carrier.  It's about 10 blocks from home, so the walk was about 20 blocks total.
  • Our current TV is the Swedish police series Wallander.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Residence Hall Halloween

Last night was Halloween at some of the residence halls.  Faculty and staff bring kids in costume and canned goods for a donation and the undergraduates hand out candy.  C wasn't able to go, being sick, but D went in his ninja costume with his dad and split his take with C.  When D was trick-or-treating, he got a couple of requests to do ninja poses, which he did.  (C has been running a ninja training school at home.  Not sure where she got her diploma from.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Naps and feeding

 Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T does seem to take real in-the-bassinet naps (rather than on-the-lap naps), especially late in the day.  Baby T napped in the morning in her bassinet, which allowed me to work with C on her school make-up work.  Baby T and I also managed to take another nap today in the afternoon, which was fantastic.  Not sure how this is going to work with the big kids' school pick-up, though.    
  • I'm trying to remember to do direct breastfeeding with Baby T at least once a day, to make sure she stays in practice.  If she can keep up her skills rather than going 100% to bottle-feeding, it will make a West Coast trip this spring much more feasible and comfortable.  We flew from Washington DC to the West Coast for Christmas when C was 5 months old, and it was a nuisance pumping in airport restrooms and having to make it all the way across the country without relief.         

Good news, bad news

The bad news is that due to a recurring low fever, tomorrow is going to be C's fifth straight absence at school.  The good news is that we didn't have to do her class play Thursday or Friday, and we didn't have to take her to her final volleyball game.  It's going to be a real mess catching up the academics, though.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Still sick

Here's some of what's happening:

  • D is back in school after being out sick five days straight.
  • C has missed her third day of school and is going to miss tomorrow, too, so she can't be in her class play or play in the final 5th grade volleyball game tomorrow.  Will she be back in school by Friday?  I don't know.  Hopefully she'll be able to make up all her work.  
  • The result of all this that two weeks after Baby T's birth, I haven't laid eyes on any of my mom friends or gone almost anywhere except the doctor's office, although I've sent emails back and forth.
  • I got the courage to step on the scales this morning and discovered that (bizarrely), my weight is 12 pounds less than it was at the very beginning of my pregnancy.  That's the gestational diabetes diet for you, plus my current post-partum housekeeping frenzy.  
  • Otherwise, I feel pretty good two weeks out.  I had six straight months of minimal physical activity, and it's normal to take a long time to recover from that, but it seems to be happening pretty quickly.    
  • Baby T is as yet unaffected by the germs.  Due to C's illness, I had to cancel Baby T's 2 week apt. and reschedule it for later in the week.
  • We are pretty happy with Baby T's current night-time schedule (a SwaddleMe, some vibration at bedtime, and an 11ish, 3ish and 7ish feeding), although we are looking forward to being able to let her sleep through the scheduled feedings.  As we are trying to get her back up to her birth weight, she can't miss feedings.  
  • I am currently working on Baby T and coaching her on doing her daytime napping not on top of me.  I would like a nap, too, as well as to get stuff done while Baby T is sleeping, and I can't do either when she is catnapping on my lap or shoulder.  It's ok to do it some of the time, but not ALL DAY.  (I'm pleased to report that we did manage an afternoon nap together today, me in bed, she in her bassinet. It was great.)
  • By the way, I'm rereading Penelope Leach's Your Baby and Child, and although I like the book a lot, I have to say that some of what she writes about newborns and sleep is garbage.  She claims that you can't make a newborn sleep or not sleep.  Au contraire.  At least early on, a warm lap or shoulder or being swaddled or taken for a ride or put in a vibrating bouncy seat or swing is soporific, while being set down in a bassinet or crib tends to induce wakefulness.    

We don't need no education

D was puzzled about a week ago by hearing Pink Floyd's lyric "We don't need no education" on the radio.  Just this morning, he was trying to fix the grammar so it would make sense.

Monday, October 22, 2012

End in sight

We are very close officially at the end of our unpacking.  Both big kids were home sick today and I was having C help me work on her closet.  (My primary method was to ask her to find 20 things she doesn't need anymore and then take a break after that.  Repeat until done.)  We finished sifting and organizing her closet and it wasn't that bad, either.  The final push involved having my husband hang up and repair various items.

The two last things that remain to be done are 1) take box to Goodwill and 2) have a look at the Orphan Box (it's a collection of lost parts that became separated from their friends during the move).

We get to move again in 7 months, you know.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

11 days old

Here's another picture, from today:

Both big kids have moderate fevers and will be staying home from school tomorrow, so my job tomorrow is going to be keeping quarantine.


Parenting Magazine has a cover article in the October 2012 issue on the question of to diagnose or not diagnose kids.  Here's a quote from the article:
Cooper Windsor's kindergarten teacher had been the first to suggest he might have ADHD.  The day he took his first dose of Ritalin, he ran over to her after discovering his classroom's Home Life Zone.  "This is fun!  When did you put these toys here?"  Upon hearing this, his mom, Amy Windsor, sobbed in relief.  The toy zone had been there all along, but before he began the medication for ADHD, Cooper wasn't focused enough to notice them.   


Here's some of what's been happening:

  • We now have out our old Gymini (it's one of those infant gyms with a mat and toys hanging overhead) and our old Graco baby swing, fully-loaded with 4 D batteries.  Baby T is enjoying both.  I moved our old IKEA Poang easy chair to D's room, as the living room was becoming warehouse-like with the addition of the baby swing.
  • At C's suggestion, we've added red food coloring to the water in a vase of pale pink carnations.  
  • Last night, I walked D over to the playground two blocks away.  That may not sound like much, but it was the first time since we moved here four months ago that I have walked there and back.
  • D recently finished reading The Hobbit and is currently reading Murray Watts' really excellent Bible for Children.  It has beautiful art and very intelligent retellings.  (Truth be told, the retellings are a bit too grown-up for a number of the Amazon reviewers.)  Since last year, D has insisted on reading the Bible itself, but I thought he should read through a good Bible story book, because I wasn't sure how much he was getting out of just the raw KJV.  Once he has the story book under his belt, he'll have a better frame of reference.  He's already reached the first stories about David.  
  • I'm washing up C's new tie-dye shirt that she made at the birthday party on Friday.     
  • C had a horseback riding lesson yesterday and then she and I and Baby T went to a local bakery to pick out stuff for a small reception for after Baby T's baptism next weekend while my husband took D for a haircut at Walmart.  We're going to have a small glassed-in room for ourselves, coffee, water, pastries and fruit cake (that being the house specialty).  The manager made us an extremely good offer, based he said on his belief that people would undoubtedly buy more stuff while there.  (The bakery is a new location of a regional landmark famous for fruitcake manufacture.)  I've sent out the invitations but am unsure how many attendees we are going to get.  Between ourselves, the priest and the godparents' family, that's already a dozen people, so somewhere between a dozen and two dozen, but it's impossible to say closer to which.    
  • We are doing very well with our old Kolcraft universal carrier and our new car seat, although the car seat itself is far too heavy for me to tote about when fully loaded with Baby T.  We keep the universal carrier in the car trunk and then always have it available when we are out and about.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back on track?

We have a three day weekend and we're starting to get traction.  Here's some of what's been happening:

  • The ninja costume turned out to be unavailable for C (we were able to get a nice one for D).  C has decided on a red kimono costume, a parasol and a Chinese fan.
  • C spent all day today at a birthday party doing tie-dye t-shirts and painting finger and toe nails.  We gave the birthday girl pipe cleaners (her suggestion) and Farmer Giles of Ham.  
  • At D's suggestion, we have opened a money market (?) account for him in our names.  He has given us $100 for the account and he is going to earn 0.95% annually.
  • D also has $20 in his giving box and he and my husband are doing a donation to
  • Baby T had a weigh-in today and was 8.65 lb (8 pounds 10 ounces).  That's very good (2 ounces gained in two days) and we don't have to come back until Wednesday, which is her two week appointment.  

Baby picture

Here's a picture of Baby T from the hospital.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Girls at the grocery store

After 4 days of missed school (an entire week since we have Friday off) spent in isolation from Baby T, D may finally be well.  D finished his massive school make-up packet today and presented me with a huge set of Kumon workbooks to correct (I managed to do some of the correcting while Baby T was napping).  This evening we all went to the cafeteria and enjoyed a very tolerable dinner.  They were doing a beer-less college Oktoberfest (the bacon-y hot potato salad was very good).  This was my first visit to the cafeteria since before I went to the hospital.  It was great.  The kids each got a chance to push the universal carrier with Baby T in it.  I also relearned the fact that the smaller and more fragile the baby, the more likely complete strangers are to come uncomfortably close.  Fortunately, the car seat has a visor suitable for just such a situation.    

We were doing some family grocery shopping after dinner tonight.  I was in the diaper aisle looking for baby wipes when I heard some college girls talking as they passed Baby T's stroller.  "I want a baby!" said one female voice.  "Me, too!" said another female voice.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Feeding progress

Here's some of what's happening:

  • We had a weigh-in this morning at the pediatrician's and Baby T is gaining.  We are definitely frequent fliers now--I went back to the desk today because I realized I hadn't given her name, but the receptionist told me that she'd recognized us and we were properly signed in.  We were discharged from the hospital Friday, went to the pediatrician for an unplanned concerned mama visit Saturday AM (jaundice and weight loss), went back Monday for her newborn visit (jaundice mostly gone, but a weight plateau after a weekend of supplementing with Pedialyte and some expressed milk) and then went back Tuesday (more weight loss) and today (Wednesday) for weigh-ins.  As of this morning (Wednesday), her weight is up to 8.5lb.  We're supposed to return Friday and if she's still gaining, we'll be free until her two-week visit.  
  • This is D's third day home from school with a low fever.  He'll be home again for a fourth day tomorrow and there's no school Friday, so he'll have missed the whole week.  Since it's me, D and Baby T home together, Baby T is fragile and D is infectious, D is mostly in "self-care."  Poor guy.
  • I've been managing reasonably well to stay one bottle ahead of Baby T's demands.  She still does occasional competent breastfeeding, but you can't count on it happening.  Hopefully, she'll keep her skills sharp during this fattening-up phase.     
  • At night, the pumping and feeding is a team effort.  My husband and I have been enjoying Portlandia and Lilyhammer on the Kindle Fire during early morning feedings.  
  • We've had a lot of discussions about how to safely encourage better sleep for Baby T.  She spent several nights in the car seat, which I know is a popular option for newborns.  I was able to rock her from my side of the bed until she drifted off.  It's not entirely clear that it's safe, though, and she'll have to move on eventually to something else anyway.  We asked one of the pediatricians and she said she'd done it with her kids, but wouldn't necessarily recommend it.  My husband did some looking on the internet, and there are some concerns that car seat sleeping is risky.  Unfortunately, the way this sort of thing works is that many sleep-encouragement methods are very likely to work through depressing respiration.  As of last night, we have made a major break-through.  We put Baby T in one of D's old swaddlers (the Kiddopotamus type with huge velcro patches) and my husband detached the vibrating unit from her bouncy seat and stuck it under her bassinet mattress.  Result--quick and easy sleep.  We still had to get up for her 3 AM and 5 AM feedings, but there was practically no wasted time waiting for her to drop off and wondering if it would ever happen.  I should have remembered about the swaddlers--there was a reason why I wound up with five or six of them for D when he was a baby.  
  • We haven't bought a crib yet.  Sealy's vibrating crib mattress is apparently a very good option, but it's ridiculously expensive for what it is.  We also may be able to get on without it.  It's still under discussion.         

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

History repeats itself

Baby T lost an ounce from yesterday to today's weigh-in, which is very unfortunate.  Her feeding has deteriorated since the weekend and she's doing a lot of refusal.  There was also a nasty long stretch early this morning where she wouldn't eat and wouldn't sleep.  I was hoping to catch her up this afternoon, but she was sleeping a lot, feeding briefly, and refusing to feed except at long intervals.  I made a mid-late afternoon call to the lactation consultant office at the hospital and the pediatrician's.  I got hold of somebody at the pediatrician's office first.  We are supposed to bottle-feed Baby T if she doesn't feed properly and bring her in for another weigh-in tomorrow.  My husband sterilized a bunch of bottles and caps and nipples and we began serious pumping and bottle-feeding this evening (with a token effort at breastfeeding at the beginning, naturally).  Hopefully, if we are consistent, Baby T will show a good weight gain by the time we take her to the doctor's office tomorrow.  This is the third time I've been through this particular process, but I've never been so tantalizingly close to successful, non-electric feeding.  Pumping and feeding are OK, but I was looking forward to life off the plastic leash, an experimental road trip or two, and maybe even a trip to the West Coast in March.  Oh, and my black Pashmama nursing cover arrived today.  It's really cute, although I think the copywriters are dreaming if they think any woman is voluntarily going to wear one after the end of breastfeeding.

In other news, D's long-awaited ninja costume has arrived in the mail.  C is still waiting for hers.                 

C's observations

Here are some C quotes:

  • C on Baby T:  "Isn't she adorable!"
  • C on Baby T:  "Her skin is so velvety!"
  • Visiting my hospital room, C noticed the rapid proliferation of sticky notes on my hospital table (that being my way of organizing to-do stuff--I have a larger collection on my dining room table).  "You've already created your own personal sticky patch!" she said.  
  • Last night, I was pointing out to C how much more energetic I am these days and how much more I can do.  "But you have less time," C replied.  She is getting to be a very perceptive critter.   

The opposite of nipple confusion

We've noticed a peculiar fact about Baby T's nighttime feeding.  She will sometimes persistently refuse to nurse...until prompted with a nip of milk from a bottle.  That is totally counterintuitive.  My husband says it's the opposite of nipple confusion.      

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baby adjustments III

Here's some of what's happening:

  • On Wednesday, we were blessed with 9 lb. 5 oz. Baby T.  By Saturday when I went to the morning clinic at the pediatrician's office, she was around 8 pounds 6 oz.  After a weekend of Pedialyte, some expressed milk, and a lot of late night/early morning nursing refusal, she was at 8 pounds 7 oz this morning.  However, she was up nearly 2 oz. over that after a single long feeding at the doctor's office.  The pediatrician thinks Baby T has hit bottom and is rebounding.  She needs to gain about 1 oz. a day and we can relax about feeding intervals once she regains her birth weight.  We are to bring her in for a weighing tomorrow.  
  • On Saturday, the doctor pointed out T's yellow torso and said to watch out if it spreads to the legs.  Sure enough, when I was sunning T on the balcony later that day, her legs had turned yellow, too.
  • True story--before T was born, I was unsure whether she was going to be big or small, so I bought a package of newborn diapers (up to 10 pounds) just to be careful.  She turned out to be large and barely fit into the newborn diapers, so I offered them to a friend who had a 6 pound baby several weeks ago.  She declined them, saying her baby was now 9 pounds.  Meanwhile, the more weight T lost, the better she fit into the newborn diapers.     
  •  Over the weekend, I was starting to think that Baby T was getting nipple confusion or that she just didn't like milk.  In retrospect, I think she was being overserved and just wasn't hungry.  However, with the jaundice (which is still there, but in much milder form), we didn't have a lot of options but to stuff her with whatever nutritious liquids were handy.  It was unfortunately impossible to tell the difference between satiety and jaundiced lethargy or nipple confusion.  Baby T has since recovered her taste for nursing and I have learned a couple things:  1) you can't force-feed a nursing infant 2) it's going to be a while before we try bottle feeding again (I've seen recommendations to hold off until 3 or 4 weeks).       
  • I managed to drive myself and T to the doctor's office this morning, a post-partum first for me.  I dealt with the new car seat and the old universal carrier (it's like the bottom of a stroller--you strap the car seat to it) and was very pleased to push T, the car seat and my backpack in the universal carrier, rather than subjecting my back and pelvis to carrying them all across the parking lot.  T and I also hit the Starbucks drive-through at the mall on the way back, another first for me.  I've never had an infant and a car at the same time before, so many standard American mothering maneuvers are totally new to me.  I've also never had a baby in Texas before, so there's a lot of relearning to be done.     

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baby adjustments II

Here are some more notes:

  • One of the challenges of our current living situation is that we moved the contents of a 2000-square foot rental home with 2-car garage into an under 1700-sq. ft. upstairs duplex with no garage.  (It could be worse--we were initially looking at an under-1200 sq. ft. apartment near the kids' school.)  We gave away huge amounts of stuff during the move, but are unavoidably rather cramped, and it gets worse every time we pull out a formerly compactly-stored piece of baby equipment or buy a new item.  We are going to wait a while before taking the plunge and buying a crib, as that will be the end of any free square footage in my husband's office.  It's going to be a truly Alice-in-Wonderland experience next spring when we move into a house that has easily twice the storage of our duplex (it's 2900 sq. ft., but there's also an attic, two car garage, and outdoor space).  
  • On the other hand, all that baby stuff serves a useful purpose.  Just this morning, having been left high and dry and unbathed after my husband and the kids left for church, it occurred to me that if I put Baby T in her vibrating bouncy seat, I could take a shower!  And I did! And it was great!
  • After I got back from the hospital, I finally finished watching Ricki Lake's infamous natural childbirth propaganda documentary The Business of Being Born.  It was much more watchable after having had the baby, although I confess I didn't watch the epidural footage very closely.  I've had three epidurals over the years and I don't need to know how big that needle is.    
  • We have a bit of a logistical problem now.  Up to now, I've been driving my husband to work in the morning and picking the kids up from school and then picking my husband up at the end of the day in order to preserve my daytime access to our one and only automobile (otherwise, the car would have to go to work with my husband and stay there until school pick-up).  Anyway, now that the baby is born, we have to figure out how realistic it is for me to continue those driving duties.  On the one hand, it would be nice not to have to worry about fitting those pick-ups and drop-offs into T's current heavy feeding schedule.  On the other hand, without the car, I will be marooned here in our immediate neighborhood all day, and not really that capable of getting out with a stroller at the moment, either.  This is still under consideration.  Once we move back closer to campus next spring, this whole issue will be moot, as my husband will once again be able to walk to work.  
  • Never having been a successful traditional breastfeeder, I am lacking in a lot of know-how.  With my older kids, I always did outings with bottles and then rushed home to resupply the fridge (as I recall, 5 hours away from home was a very big deal).  That whole lifestyle has lost a lot of its charm now that the kids have so many outside engagements and we've started to enjoy family travel.  (And to be honest, it didn't have a lot of charm at the time.  The most important thing was that it worked.)  Anyway, although Baby T is really surprisingly talented, I've only ever successfully fed her in the hospital, at home, or in the doctor's office, places with very lax dress codes (i.e. National Geographic style)  for new mothers.  There are so many places to go and things to do, but I first need to master "discreet" breastfeeding, whatever that is (I notice that local mothers favor nursing covers).  I've ordered a cover of my own, and am hoping to regain the ability to get out and about with Baby T.
  • We rented hospital pumps for our two big kids.  We knew we wanted a pump available in case of emergency for Baby T, so we planned to rent a pump at the hospital immediately, at least until we could get a good internet deal.  As it happened, there was a screaming deal ($225) on Pump In Styles at the local HEB grocery stores the day I was checking out from the hospital, and my husband was able to snag the last one available at a suburban HEB.  I've only used it once or twice so far, but it seems adequate for our purposes.  
  • Here are some of my goals (a number of these being dependent on being organized enough to claim the car):  go see friends, go to my usual coffee places on or near campus, go to the bookstore.  I was also weighing the possibility earlier of making a spring break visit to Western Washington, either just me and Baby T or me and Baby T and C, if we figured out Baby T's feeding satisfactorily.  We've got a very narrow window to work with, as in our experience, it is delightful to travel with a five month old.  However, we had many unsatisfactory travel experiences with our big kids between about nine months old and 3, the problem being that our big kids (both excellent sleepers) bond with their cribs, sleep there beautifully, but then don't want to sleep anywhere else.  I also find air travel with 1-3 year olds not very restful.  Baby T may be totally different, but I think we should seize the opportunity.  We should also probably experiment with short trips in Texas, just to see what her parameters are.                       

Baby adjustments

Here's some of what's happening:

  • C keeps saying variants on "she's so adorable!" and holding Baby T.  D has been more subdued in his response.  
  • Baby T has been astonishingly good at breastfeeding.  My older two had feeding issues and lived on expressed milk for their first year, so this is a whole new world for me (and for my husband, who bottle-fed them through many nights).  That said, between the (literally) creeping jaundice and Baby T's tendency to fall asleep mid-feeding now that I have real milk, this is a challenging weekend.  Baby T would naturally tend to sleep through feedings this weekend, but she's supposed to be eating very regularly to fight off the jaundice, so I have to keep waking her up.  We're seeing the doctor tomorrow morning for her official newborn visit and plying her with Pedialyte and she has gone through an encouraging number of diapers, so please don't be concerned.  Yesterday the doctor said jaundice peaks on the fifth day, so I'm hoping to get permission soon to allow her to sleep longer stretches at night soon.  It feels very odd to set alarms at night to wake her up.    
  • Baby T and I stayed home from church today.  My husband took the kids to the Spanish-language downtown parish, which was celebrating Fiesta de la Raza today.
  • This is our third day home from the hospital.  I have barely been out at all.  This afternoon, Baby T and I made our first official outing together.  My husband helped me get my precious (my new Bumbleride jogging stroller) down the stairs and Baby T and I walked to the grocery store, mainly to stock up on infant acetaminophen (just in case), children's acetaminophen (D has a slight fever) and children's ibuprofen.  We were multi-tasking and Baby T wore just a diaper and infant sunglasses to soak up some sunshine for her jaundice.  The grocery store is 3.5/4 blocks away and this was my very first walk there since we moved here 3.5 months ago.  What to report?  First of all, I love my new stroller very much.  Second, unfortunately, my pelvic joints unfortunately feel like they've been taken apart and very carelessly reassembled, so a 7-block round trip is actually a fairly major event at this point.  I will have to be patient.  On the bright side, I don't think I'm going to need the major pain killer my doctor prescribed.  The Alleve she suggested seems to work very well on the sort of lingering but minor aches and pains I've got.  
  • We have a bit of a logistical problem with regard to strollers.  We have the Bumbleride jogging stroller and the universal carrier that goes with the car seat, both wonderful pieces of machinery.  The problem is that we will be in our second floor duplex with exterior stairs until late May, over 7 months from now.  We are thinking of entering into negotiations with the downstairs neighbors to see if we can chain our universal carrier outside downstairs.  Unfortunately, thanks to our new baby and the hours she keeps, we are (completely involuntarily) the neighbors from hell, so it's a somewhat awkward question.      

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Baby T is here!

Here's some of what's been happening:

  • Baby T was born Wednesday after a scheduled induction at exactly 39 weeks.  She now shares a birthday with her great-grandpa.  
  • We got home yesterday afternoon.  Baby T is feeding very well, but is somewhat jaundiced.  We went to see the pediatrician this morning and the doctor pointed out her yellowness.  We are applying Pedialyte and sunlight and will be seeing the doctor again on Monday.
  • T slept tolerably in her car seat last night, with feedings at 11ish, 2ish and 5ish.  In the morning, C wanted to know why I was still in pajamas at 9:30 AM.  One of the kids also wanted to know why we parents were only up at 8:20 AM.  
  • We are rediscovering the newborn parent nighttime protocol of get ready for bed, feed baby, then everybody jumps into bed, and then get up every 3 hours.  I did wake Baby T for one or two of her feedings.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

County Fair II

Here's more of what happened this weekend:

  • My husband took the kids out separately for archery.
  • I went to a baby shower this afternoon and didn't eat chocolate-drizzled scones.
  • My husband took the kids to the rodeo at the county fair.  They also paid to go in those big plastic gerbil balls that spin around in the water.
  • I am surprised to be walking around still.

County Fair

Here's some of what's happening:

  • My husband took the kids to the fair yesterday.  C participated in the oral finale of the spelling bee and placed 4th in the 5th/6th grade category.  Then the kids purchased $15 unlimited ride armbands and rode the fair rides until dinner time.  They had a really good time (although D should probably sit out the ferris wheel next year).   
  • Our high temperature was in the high 50s yesterday and today's high will be similar.  This is real fall.
  • In the evening, C and I went through her clothes and sorted out too-small items.  I moved a bunch of non-clothing stuff to her other closet and moved all of her clothes to a lower more accessible rack.  The following needs to be done with C's room:  tidy top of book case, thin down shelf of paper airplanes, organize other closet (the biggest job--that closet is where I've been sticking everything from her room that I can't find a place for), and sell to D or give away unwanted items.  It's not looking like I will finish that closet before the baby is born, and indeed, we may move before I get to it.  
  • My husband is planning to take the kids out separately for some archery today.  Archery is the new family hobby.  My husband has gotten a membership at the local range and bought two bows.  His bow, oddly enough, is just the right size for C, too.
  • I have an induction scheduled for mid-week.  I don't know if I'm going to make it that far, but it's looking more and more likely.        

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beginning of the month

Here's some of what's happening:

  • This is the beginning of the month and there's been a flurry of commercial activity.
  • The last few years, D has been turning into a small preppy.  His dress is always neat and crisp and his tastes are very conservative.  He's voiced an interest in having a smaller version of his daddy's button-down shirts, he disapproved of a loud blue plaid flannel shirt I got him last year, and he suggested that I consult him before making any more clothing purchases for him.  (The boy is 7!)  This evening I put him through a grueling online shopping trek, but I think we got him some items that he is genuinely enthusiastic about.       
  • My husband ordered us half a dozen Indian sauces from Sadaf, important provisions for the weeks and months ahead.
  • My husband also ordered the kids ninja costumes for Halloween.  C says she has been practicing rolling stealthily on the floor.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Math and spelling bee

C did the math and spelling bees at the county fairgrounds this morning and D did just the math bee.  We cruised by there for results before dinner and learned that D took second place in his age category in the math bee and C is invited back to the fairgrounds for the final round of the spelling bee next week.

As is customary locally, the kids were showered with loot for participating.  We got two fair passes for the kids, some parking passes, Starbursts, Snickers bars, drawstring backpacks, temporary tattoos, and all manner of free stuff.  This was all for just paying $3 for entry and showing up.  They also offer savings bonds for the math and spelling bee winners.  

A note from D

I've just been sorting and filing some papers from the beginning of school.  Here's D's note that was on his desk for parent education night:
Dear Mom and Dad, I have been haveing a great school year.  fank you for puting me in this school.  Love D

37 weeks

Here's some of what's happening:

  • I'm at 37 weeks (C was born right around this time, by the way).
  • Baby has dropped and is head down.  The sciatica seems to have lightened up, although I'm still sticking to a very light schedule of physical activity.    
  • Thanks to my gestational diabetes and previous history of delivering a 10+ pound baby, my OB has booked me an induction for very early 39 weeks.  I have rather less than two weeks to go.  
  • I'm supposed to have an ultrasound early this next week, mainly to determine probable size, followed by a chat with my obstetrician later that week whether I'm going to need a c-section. 
  • I'm 50% sure I won't make it to my scheduled induction (I've never gone all the way to 39 weeks before), but I'm actually really warming up to the date my doctor chose.  It's a school day, my husband's not teaching, I could take a taxi to the hospital before the kids leave for school and then my husband could join me after school drop-off and maybe we'd be all done before the end of the school day, with no need for babysitting help, I'd presumably have my very own doctor rather than potluck...It sounds really very civilized.  I like the idea a lot, but I'm trying not to get too attached to it.
  • Oh, and we went through some boxes of infant equipment and toys last night.  The vibrating bouncy seat that was so essential to D's comfort in early infancy has been unpacked, assembled, and filled with the appropriate number of batteries.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Last week at the doctor's office

Here's a bit of a conversation from my 36 week appointment with my OB.

Me:  I've been reading about [a particular complication]

OB:  Why am I not surprised?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Late pickup

I seem to have developed sciatica (i.e. a pinched nerve) and my husband is taking on driving responsibilities.  He came later to pickup today than usual.  The kids were looking expectantly at him.  C said, "Has anything happened?  For instance 'waaaaaah'?"

Nope, not yet.    

Saturday, September 22, 2012

C's room

Surprisingly, we did do some work on C's room this afternoon.  With assistance from C, my husband straightened her small bookcase and I worked on organizing the sewing supplies, markers, pens, pencils, etc on the bottom shelf of her big bookcase.  Here's what remains to be organized in C's room:

  • the top of C's small bookcase
  • the top of C's dresser
  • two closets
There is probably two more sessions' worth of work left in C's room, although I may be being too optimistic, not having worked on the closets yet.    


Here's some of what's happening:

  • C had her first volleyball game Thursday.  The fifth grade girls still have trouble getting the ball over the net when serving, but they are getting very good at going for the ball and making contact with it.  As always, the kids loooove concessions.  
  • My husband and I ordered a play yard from Target late last night--we had a generous gift card from some friends.  My grandma has sent us a check to buy a new crib (we had one up until last year, but it was recalled for two different safety hazards).  Buying a new crib is the last major purchase we need to do, but it doesn't need to happen right away.  The plan is to squeeze the play yard (with bassinet and change table) into our bedroom and put the crib into my husband's office for when baby sleeps in longer stretches.  
  • D was home sick yesterday. 
  • C isn't feverish or anything, but her temperature is 99.1, she has a headache, and she seems a little off.  My husband has been feeling off and I don't feel that great myself.  We're skipping C's horse riding and the annual school picnic and I shelved my plan to work on C's room.  The kids are crushed by the cancellations, especially by not getting to go to the picnic.
  • My husband and D cleaned out the car and installed the car seat into our 2004 Ford Taurus.  It's going to be a bit of a squeeze with three kids in the back and my husband warns me that from now on, D will need our help being buckled in his booster seat.  I'm hoping, though, that when D sheds his booster seat in March 2013, he will be able to buckle himself in again.            

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Here's some of what's happening:

  • I managed to do my baby shower thank yous this morning, I disposed of all the packing materials, washed up all the cloth items (bibs, booties, tiny newborn mittens, embellished burp cloths, infant leg warmers) and stored some decorations from the shower and some of the more presentable gift bags for reuse.  C was blown away by the cuteness of the items.  
  • D is making excellent progress on reading the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World.  He is half-way through.  His 2nd grade class will be spending a lot of time on this material in history, with special attention to the Egyptians.    

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Here's some of what has been happening:

  • We had a new babysitter yesterday (a high school senior) and we collectively made some progress on C's room.  It is the last room to be officially unpacked.  We probably need a few more hours to finish the job.  
  • C started her therapeutic horseriding yesterday.  We were very lucky to snag a Saturday slot this time.
  • I just learned that my pregnancy buddy had her baby!  This is very exciting.  Just last weekend, she was helping to throw my shower.  That was a very near thing.  And speaking of near things, I'd better do my shower thank yous before it's too late.    
  • There was an adorable 1-year-old in the pew in front of us in church today.  C engaged with the baby and enjoyed interacting with her, but was at the same time squicked out by the drooliness of the baby.  C has been very pleased about our expanding family (patting my tummy at every opportunity), but of late, she has been thinking about the downside of the situation.  We have reassured the children that while toddlers can be difficult, their rooms will be provided with the best baby gates and latches we can manage.     
  • The kids' go bags and sleeping bags are packed and ready near the front door.  My hospital bag is still a work in progress, but as packed as possible right this minute (I'm waiting for a couple clothing items and I also have a last minute list--cell phone, charger, keys, wallet, etc.).
  • Our weather is suddenly cool and rainy.  It's 67 degrees right now and it's fantastic.
  • My husband took the kids roller skating this afternoon.
  • We got C a chemistry set a couple years back, but we are only now starting to use it.  (Once mixed with water, the chemicals have a short shelf life, so the clock is ticking.)  C's 5th grade class will be focusing on chemistry this year in science and she is suddenly very excited about working with the chemistry set.  Today, they were doing work with mixtures and solutions.
  • At bedtime tonight, the kids were watching Born Free.  C was initially not interested, but the adorable lion cubs won her over.   

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dead battery

Here's some of what's happening:

  • I had my baby shower (first ever!) on Sunday.  The hostesses were two female graduate students and a grad wife and the guests were ditto, with the exception of a non-philosophy affiliated mom friend.  There were pink balloons and pink and mauve paper roses as decorations (C had helped make some of the roses and claimed them all after the party) as well as bibs hung up on a clothesline on the wall.  There was a nut-crust cheese cake with fresh raspberries.  I had a slice of it and my blood sugar was fine.  Since we are mostly well-supplied with major baby equipment and clothes and our bibs had nearly all vaporized over the years, I had asked for bibs, and got lots of them, a couple of them handmade.  One of the next things I need to do is to thank all of the attendees and organizers.
  • Our car battery died this afternoon, just as I was trying to start the car to meet the kids at school.  I called school, they sent D to aftercare (C was in Spanish already) and I tried several different ways to contact my husband.  He was able to get a ride to school from a colleague to pick up the kids and then once home, he and the colleague jump-started our car.  We left immediately for Walmart (our battery was still under warranty) and a new battery seemed to do the job.  In our brutal climate, car batteries (or at least Walmart batteries) seem to last just over a year.              

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Here's some of what we've been doing:
  • We went to the grocery store and I bought a bunch of stuff for my hospital bag (crackers, nuts, tiny toiletry items, etc.).  My husband pulled out my suitcase for me and I have started to assemble my bag.  The kids have also had a go at putting together their go bags, but I will of course need to have a look at the contents.  (It is my understanding that the main item in C's bag is a large Hot Wheels set with tracks.)
  • My husband and I sent out our emails to prospective host families for the kids for when I go to the hospital.  We requested blackout dates, cell phone numbers, updated addresses, promised that the kids can work very hard and noted that when D was born, my labor took only 4 hours (but that past performance is no guarantee of future performance).  When all of the responses come in, we'll put together a calendar (a copy for me and my husband) with the name of each family available on each day, along with all vital phone and address information.  
  • We worked on C's room.  Her stuff has settled into drifts on the top of her dresser, bookcase, shelves, and practically all horizontal surfaces.  We need to sift her stuff, tidy up her room and finally get to the closets.  I get winded pretty fast, so the job requires C and both me and my husband.  It's probably been at least half a year (probably even longer) since C and I last did the job properly.     
  • We packed away some maternity stuff in storage.  I *sniff* am too big for the maternity jeans and pants that I wore when pregnant with C and D.  I'm hoping my current pants are up to the challenge of my expanding tummy--having to buy clothes just for the last 5.5 weeks would be aggravating.    
  • I freed up one shelf and two drawers for baby clothes, linens, diapers, etc.
  • My husband and I went through our storage boxes looking for 0-3 month infant clothes and baby linens.  There's a lot of stuff, but I'm not totally sure that the mix of sizes and seasons is appropriate.  However, our Texas weather changes so radically from day to day during the fall, winter and spring that we may well be able to use everything.  (The summer, on the other hand is totally predictable, except for thunderstorms--it's always hot and even hotter.)  The blue stuff is so cute that I am inclined to use it.
  • I started washing up everything.  
  • My baby shower is tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hospital Tour II

I'm totally wiped out.  I did a cruise through Kids R Us and Burlington Coat Factory with a friend and her 1-year-old, then went briefly to the playground with them.  In the afternoon, I got afterschool snacks for the kids, collected the kids, dropped them and the snack off with my husband, had a meeting at school, went to dinner at the cafeteria with the family, went to the first night of CCD at our parish with the kids, sat through the beginning-of-the-year meeting for CCD, we all returned home, we unloaded the groceries my husband bought while I went to the CCD meeting, the kids had bedtime snacks, C did some homework, and right now she's taking a bath.  Sometime later this evening (if evening is quite the right word), I need to launder PE clothes and uniform for D and my husband and I need to do a light tidying up for the cleaners who are coming early tomorrow morning.  So tired.

Oh, and what was I planning to tell you about in this second post on the hospital tour?  Well, while we were all touring the hospital last night, the nurse doing the tour was talking about how we can have our babies with us as much as we like!!!  Finally, one of the expectant mothers (I think a repeat customer) asked the question we were all thinking, but afraid to ask.  If we'd like the babies to go to the nursery, can they take them away?  Please?  The nurse replied that yes, indeed, at night, the nursery is chock-full of babies, and the staff understand perfectly well that mothers need to rest up before going home.  That was music to our ears.