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

Hammock

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

Gingerbread

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

Liberation?

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.

Company

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

Update

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

Weekend

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.