Saturday, February 28, 2009

I just realized...

I have been wearing the same clothes since Wednesday.

On the one hand, this means that I have not been peed on or barfed on in four days.

On the other hand, that's just grodey.

Saturday Morning Adventure

The toilet overflowed this morning. Film at 11.

Just kidding.

But I will let you know how it works out.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Circus Option

This is an increasingly adorable time in Babyland. But again, this adorability is timed so that the adults surrounding said baby do not begin to reconsider exercising the Circus Option. To compensate for the incessant whiny "I can't get it I can't do it donwanna donwanna" sounds perpetually coming out of his adorable little mouth, he gives us wide, gummy smiles and happy bouncing baby face. In exchange for mad "don't want my diaper changed" baby, we get shakey rattle boy. He coos, he gurgles, he calls to the cats, and his attention span is five minutes, after which, he is no longer adorable.

It's a little game: figure out what the baby wants, when the baby does not even know. A few nights ago, it was being in the bedroom, on the bed, playing the horsey game and patty-cake. That lasted for twenty minutes. For every "ohmygodwhatacutie" moment, there are three "sweetcrashingthormakeitstop" moments. And if I am extra tired, and it's toward the end of the day, or the end of one of Pete's three-gig weekends, it's hard to handle.

He has the hands thing down and is moving on to fingers. He's interested in exploring things not just with his mouth, but by turning them around and looking at them or plucking at parts of them with finger and thumb. The tags on his stuffed animals are especially interesting. So are his feet, toes, and the tails of cats. I guess he is interested in the ends of things.

He also made the connection between hand, object, and other object, meaning that he figured out that he could hit a drum with a mallet.

That was pretty cool.

Then he started whining.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


This is totally off-topic, but I was just perusing Go Fug Yourself, reviewing the Oscar Fashion Scene, you know, and it occurred to me that I live in a world where people like Lauren Conrad are at Oscar parties, and I don't understand why.

Stay at Home, Mom

Oh, how my attitudes have changed. I never thought that I would be OK being a stay at home mom. I thought it would make me completely loony. But Finn's prematurity turned me into just that, at least temporarily. Not loony, but a stay at home mom.

And sometimes loony.

I had no idea what this would be like, but I was secretly glad of the opportunity to spend his first year with him. It could be because of his hospital stay, or it could be that I would have felt this way even if I had had a third trimester. In fact, if I had my way, I would probably be just fine staying home until he goes to preschool, or college, but home economics doesn't usually work that way in America in 2009.

Turns out, I don't miss being out and about during they day, and I don't really miss people. It would be nice to see a few more of Pete's gigs and see my girlfriends a little but more, but that would be the case even if I were working.

Stay at home mothering was apparently more common in the past, if you are to believe the television shows. And in 1961, it looked just like this:

It's like we are twins, except for the hair and the cigarette.
Perfect hair, perfect make-up, perfect outfit, spotless kitchen. Me. To A Tee.

Seriously, what the f*@$?
I don't look like that on a good day. Let alone on, say, a Tuesday.
That's January Jones in "Mad Men" (which is an excellent show, you might like it), and granted, she's already way ahead of me in the looks department, which is a-ok.* She also has about ten years to go to catch up to me, age-wise.

In this television show, almost all the women are either moms or secretaries. The main mom looks like this almost. every. day. When she is not like that, she's in a lovely chemise or penoir. Glamorous. Gorgeous. Totally believable.

I'm lucky to get a shower twice a week. Make-up happens if I am going to leave the house, which is about the same rate. The last time I put on a dress was September 6th, and that was a very special occasion.

Was it ever reality for anyone? I understand that the show takes place in the suburbs, and they are doing just fine financially, but she does not have live-in help. How is it possible? One does not arise looking like that when one does not have animated bluebirds assisting you. They have two kids, neither of whom are babies, so maybe before the show started, she looked like this:

Let's try again, and see if you can tell which one is me:

It's like looking in a mirror. (Note the "Hostess" book. SO me.)

*which means please, no comments like "oh you look great, blah blah blah."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day Care 1

We visited a day care today. It was our first one. My reaction?

I wish I did not have to work.

Not that there was anything really wrong with this place, I think I am going to feel this way about anywhere I visit. Because it won't be me, and it won't be home.

One thing that is really going to piss me off, one thing that I know I am not going to get, is the continuing use of cloth diapers, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

"It's just too hard," she said.

Begin rant:
And I don't understand it.
I know that there are many kids there whose diapers need to be changed, but I don't see what is so much harder about it, especially if I switch to all-in-ones for during the day. You change the diaper, you throw it in the garbage. You change the diaper, you throw it in the wet bag. Ta da! What's the big difference? She said that there were three other families who cloth diaper, but they all switch to disposables for day care. See now, if those three families, and other families like us started insisting, could we do something about this?

Everything else is "up to you." It's how you want it done. Well, this choice is just like all my others. It's there for a reason, and if a day care is going to follow my other parenting choices, why is this one so hard to get through their skulls? I am paying them, after all. They don't have to do laundry.

I just don't get it.

End rant.

I came home and started poking around on the internet for resources. This is something one normally does in their third trimester, like finding a pediatrician, so I am doing it in my third trimester of stay-at-home care. Our boy needs a surrogate home from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

I wish he didn't.

p.s. The child care center that is associated with our work has a sixteen month waiting list. To get Finn in on June 1, I would have had to apply during my first trimester. To get him in for December, when he would have needed it had he been born in September, I would have had to apply four months before I got pregnant.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Hear Voices

My breast pump says different things to everyone. It says "wouldn't hurt" to me most of the time. Pete is hearing "Winnipeg." My dad heard something else entirely. This morning, it sounds an awful lot like donald duck.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sleep Log

I typed this into my iPod over the course of a few hours a few nights ago...

10:14 p.m. Falls asleep quickly while being walked around in the kitchen after boob yelling for 15 minutes.

(Boob yelling is the name I have given to a charming new development in breastfeeding where Finn is hungry, wants to nurse, but yells while nursing, periodically de-latching to thrash around and rub his eyes. It's very relaxing. The only thing I can figure out is that he is tired, but does not want to go to sleep, so is trying to keep himself awake.)

11:25 p.m. Thrashing and crying. Nurses for 10 minutes. Stays on until 11:40 when Hazel makes a nuisance of herself. Mental note: bring spray bottle to bed in future.

12:16 am: I am still awake.
What is wrong with me?
And why did I forget to turn down the heat? There's a pot holder on the floor in the living room. I should have put that away. My eyes are stinging. The baby is taking up most of the bed. How is that possible?

1:19 am: Pete/Fritz cause him to stir. He nurses on Lefty for 6 minutes. Off at 1:25. Back on at 1:35. Off at 1:40. I need to move him over, but I don't think he is asleep enough. Wow... It worked. He stirred a bit, but he's still sleeping. Now if only I could sleep. How is it that, as sleep deprived as I am, I am still awake at 1:43 am? I have now played enough solitaire to choke a horse, which is ridiculous because it's not like horses eat card games.

I have played enough solitaire to annoy a small pony.

2:35am: Switch to the boob.

Sometime after that I finally fell asleep. I woke up at around 3:30, and nursed him soon after, and then continued the cycle of nursing and sleeping until we got up at around 7:00. Finn never fully wakes up; he does not cry. I am getting so that I don't wake up entirely, either. This morning, I woke up at around 3:00 when Pete came home from his gig, and the boy was asleep, but I had one boob out. I am not sure if it was from when we first went to bed or if I got it out after that. It's probably the first one.


A few nights ago, Pete had an alternate universe dream in which he was married to another woman, and they had three kids. He frequently has dreams in which he is married to the wrong woman, meaning not me, and in the dream, he knows this and is upset about it. In this dream, he worked as counselor at a hotel. I am not sure what kind of hotel needs a counselor; perhaps it was one with really intense vacationing going on. Pete was concerned that he not screw things up too much on his alternate universe because he figured that the Pete who belonged there would be back. He was also mad that he had no say in their names. "What's this one's name?" he asked his alternate universe wife.

"Boyge," she answered.

Boyge. We'll save that for the next one.

Or maybe the dog.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Baybee Fud

Finn likes sweet potatoes.

Finn loves pears, apples, and oranges.
Finn is sort of "meh" on the avocados, though the texture and color are both inviting.

Finn is simply mad about snickerdoodles.


Dad and I came home from The Dubliner on Wednesday night to find Pete and Finn sitting in the bathroom. Finn had little brown mushy bits all over himself, and Pete was wiping him off. Finn was all huge smiles and happy to see me, and Pete seemed frustrated. Apparently, Snatchy VonGrabbenheim had snagged a cookie en route from Pete's hand to Pete's mouth and jammed it into his own tiny gob. He proceeded to nom it into a spongy mess, and he was very, very happy about it.

Pete was worried I would be mad, but that was not the case. I wish I could have seen it, in fact.

Now, if Pete had sat down and fed him a snickerdoodle, we might have something to talk about.


Well, it took him six months, but Max finally did it. He jumped into the basket while the baby was sleeping in it. Woke him up, of course. Neither of them were upset. Max was quite happy about it, in fact. Max is the kind of cat who inspired the old wives' tale that cats would sit on a baby's chest and suck its breath away. I can see it from the cat's perspective: it has nothing to do with causing any harm, and certainly nothing to do with the occult (if that were the case, it would be Hazel, who is both female and black all over). It's all about Max's love for small spaces and warm things. Plus, Max is very patient and tolerant with Finn--quite a good friend, really. I gave them a few moments, took a few pictures, and removed the wee Katz, who was getting a little too happy about the whole situation.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Give me Cereal, or Give me Death

When did America turn into a Dickensian orphanage? I think it was sometime in the 50's, which puts us a bit behind the times as far as literary cliches go. At Finn's six month appointment, almost three months ago, his pediatrician recommended that I give him gruel, once a day. I smiled and nodded. I did not give him gruel.

Of course, she did not really say "You should give him gruel," but that packaged iron-encrusted rice flakey stuff is what I would call gruel. It's certainly not cereal, and I would certainly not eat it. The whole idea of giving him something other than breast milk just seemed wrong to me. First of all, I did not think that he was ready and second of all, I did not think that I was ever going to be giving him that stuff.

Baby junk food.

Little did I know the sniffy opinions people have about solid foods and when they should be given to babies. Many "helpful" people think they should start at at least four months. Some people start as early as six weeks. They will tell you that your baby won't gain enough weight, sleep though the night, or get enough nutrition if you don't start them on solid food at six months, at the very least.

(None of those things are true, by the way.)

And why do they care so much?

It all seemed weird to me. It seemed weird to me that this would not be adjusted for a premature baby, and then it seemed weird to me that an arbitrary thing such as a chronological date would determine when to start something so important. It seemed like baby behavior should be the guide. Also, since when is pre-packaged cereal watered down to the consistency of "thin soup" considered solid? It's been a long time since seventh grade science, but I do remember some things. Apple juice is not a gas, and thin soup is not a solid.

It's the whole "Cry-it-Out" war all over again, but this is more bizarre. Almost everyone always asks if he's eating solid food. This would never occur to me when observing someone's baby.

"Cute. Eating steak yet?"

And it's usually in connection with the "sleeping though the night" question.

(If we remember from our earlier notes, the medical definition of "sleeping through the night" is five consecutive hours, and a solid is defined, in chemistry as "state of matter characterized by particles arranged such that their shape and volume are relatively stable. The constituents of a solid tend to be packed together much closer than the particles in a gas or liquid."
Note: "thin soup" is not mentioned.)

Answers: No, Finn is not sleeping through the night, and no, he's not slurping gruel. He's not Oliver Twist.

Unlike the Cry It Out argument, I can cite actual acronyms supporting my side of the argument. The World Health Organization recommends that no solid foods be introduced to babies before six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no solid foods be introduced before six months. I am sensing a trend. In fact, they recommend exclusive breast milk for the first six months. Furthermore, I read that babies do quite well on just breast milk for the first year, and one should watch their baby for cues that it is ready for solid food.

What to watch for?
Well, sitting up unassisted, for one thing.
A mature digestive tract. Studies say that this is ready at around six months.
Losing the tongue thrust. This is the fun thing they do, and it's a reflex that protects them, when they automatically push solids out.
Ready and willing to chew.
Able to pick things up with the thumb and forefinger.
Tries to grab food and intercept food, displays interest in food.

Now, at almost nine months, I feel that Finn is actually there, which would be on cue had he been born in September. He's just starting the thumb and forefinger grasp, and his sitting up is getting better. He's definitely displaying the interest in food.

Of course, others around him would say that he has wanted to eat our food for a couple of months now, but I live with him and spend a great deal of time with him. Once he figured out he had hands and really started interacting with the world around him, he wanted to grab everything, and he wanted to put it all into his mouth. (let's sing: He's got the whole world, in his mouth.) If he saw it, he wanted it. It did not matter what it was. He's the same now, but he has started to become interested in food and the act of eating in a different way, and I can tell the difference because, I am just going to say it, I am his mother. He really wants my cell phone, but that does not mean I should let him make a call.

Now, I think he's ready. Not for a cell phone, but for solid food.

Not gruel. Not thin soup. Not rice cereal.
Oh no. I will not be giving him baby cereal first. I don't care if it's organic. It's not going to happen. He's not going to start with grains. When he's ready for grains, I'll make them, or he will steal them out of Pete's hands, but we're starting with either sweet potatoes or avocado. He has already nomm-ed on a couple of apples and an orange peel, so we know that he likes new tastes, and strong ones at that. Besides that, I think that this rice cereal thing is related to the early to mid to mid late twentieth century disdain and discouragement of breast feeding, and that is a path I do not tread.

Basically, I held off because I thought my baby was not ready and because no one could give me a good reason to start him, while I found many reasons not to, from the concern over allergies to interference with iron absorption. I inwardly rolled my eyes whenever someone made an aside about him wanting food, or how bad they felt eating in front of him, or how he'd sleep through the night, blah blah blah. It's really annoying. Just because it was done that way in previous generations does not make it right. Back in the day, we put babies to sleep on their stomachs, now we know that may contribute to SIDS. People smoke and drank when they were pregnant, and they smoked around babies and children. Breastfeeding was discouraged. We didn't always get things right.

Finn is facing a menu of avocado, sweet potato, and pear. Then bananas, then apples, then into meats, and then into whole grains, over a period of time. What we are doing, after all, is introducing him to new tastes, complementing the breastmilk, and adding new experiences. He'll still be nursing on demand, I'll be pumping more once I am back to work, and breast milk will continue to be his primary source of nutrition. We'll nurse first, then try a few bites of a new food and see how it goes. This is not nutrition replacement or behavior modification (i.e. sleeping through the night), it's practice and learning. The good old AAP says that breast milk should remain babies' primary source of nutrition for the first year, and that's fine by me. I can stay lashed to the mouth and to the pump for that long. And longer.

Many sources say that you should try one new food at a time, wait three to five days, and then introduce something new, but I have also read that it's good to introduce a bite of new flavors each day. That's what he's getting with the breast milk, too, based on my varying diet. Again, the AAP recommendations now forgo the suggestion of waiting in between new foods.

So far, he likes sweet potatoes and avocados, although he may just like the bright green color and squishy consistency of the latter.

Video to come. That's Pete's department.


It's done, and it's gorgeous, which is mostly a compliment to the yarn. I did not cheat; I knitted straight through; and I am on to another project.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

List Maker

The keys to successful and gratifying list-making are to anticipate, specify, and calculate. Don't start too big or you will wind up disappointed. Likewise if you start too small. It's about balance. You can always add items if you accomplish your original list, but if you add two things to a two item list, how accomplished are you really going to feel?

When I say specific, I mean to a point. Let's look at a recent list:

1 ...

I should mention that I do not list in any particular order. This is a matter of style and is entirely up to the list-er.

So, without the unnecessary and therefore confusing numbers, we have:

Clean cat boxes
Sweep basement
Add up Finn's medical expenses
Do money
Freeze chili

Is "Knit" really a task? Not so much, but I spend time doing it, I have projects I want to finish, so it goes on the list. It usually does not get crossed out, but I put a check by it to indicate that I did it. This is the same for "Pump," because sometimes I get to do this twice in one day. "Clean cat boxes" and "Sweep basement" are really part of the same task, because it is impossible for Hazel Cat to use the litterbox without casting litter to the four winds, which then winds up in the laundry area, on the stairs, and into the house proper. There are litter bits everywhere. But, as I can't cross off "Clean cat boxes" until the floor and stairs are swept, I have decided to separate them for the crossing-out satisfaction. Plus, my time is separated into little baby chunks, so I don't usually have the solid block of time necessary to complete the entire task at once.

"Do Money" means to pay the bills and write down any expenses in the register. I try to do this a couple of times a week, though I only pay the bills twice a week, on payday. As for Finn's medical expenses, I was getting ready for taxes, and I was curious. We wound up coming nowhere near the deductible because we are fortunate in our insurance coverage, but just in case, I decided I should check.

That's a pretty small list, but I have had to learn to temper my expectations due to the presence of a new small, hungry human in my life. On my normal speed, pre-baby, I could have accomplished twice that, but those times are gone. Gone, too, are the times when I could have left things off the list that seem too small. The Stupid that I caught during pregnancy has not gone away, and I need to write down things like "Shower" and "Breathe" or I might forget. "Slipped my mind."

I am doing pretty well on today's list. Dad's here, so that definitely helps. Today, I hope to:

Make tomato sauce (In preparation for a lasagna. The sausage is defrosting right now.)
Take out the compost (Pete did this last night, so Yay!)
Fill the birdfeeders (I have neglected them all winter.)
Dishes (This is one of those everyday things, but I write it down anyway.)
Catboxes (Done!)
Laundry (One load in the washing machine, one on deck.)
Clean the toilet (Really looking forward to this one.)
Blog (I'm on it.)
Reschedule Finn's 9 month appointment (So Pete can go along. This involves a phone call. I hate the phone.)
Sweep kitchen (Done.)
Sweep Basement (Done.)
Season cast iron skillet (We'll call it done. It gets way too smokey in the house to do this properly right now. It's better than it was.)

And, I can now add on:

Start sorting basement stuff (This will be an ongoing, "try to put half an hour in every day until it's done" sort of things. Getting ready for a garage or "tag" sale this summer. We have a lot of crap.)

You always write things down on the list if you do them, and they were not on the original list. Then you cross them off immediately. It gives one such a feeling of satisfaction.

Oh, and Finn likes sweet potatoes.
But that's part of another blog.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Where are we?

While glancing through my motherhood magazines, I noticed that there are no images depicting new families in our situation. The first family pictures are all the stereotypical just-after-birth-tired-mom-little-baby-in-the-delivery-room shots or even the happy home birth with family shots. It's not often that you see mom holding a tiny baby hand through the portal of an isolette. So far, in this magazine, while I have been reading, not ever.

It does not make me feel left out, nor does it make me yearn for a different birth experience. But it might be a good idea to include some of those different experiences, as apparently, 12 percent of us and rising are having it.

Happy Darwin Day

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day Time TV

I resent "Clifford the Big Red Dog" as a television show. See, I have the books from my childhood, and it's just too much change.

"Word Girl" was not what I was expecting, nor was she what she should be. I like the fact that she has a monkey in a diaper, but she really should go around correcting people's word usage, carrying a bag full of appropriate apostrophes, while she saves the world with words of no less than three syllables.

Then there is this guy in a red polo shirt singing to a bunch of kids about how he likes to start drawing with lines. Instead of feeling like he loves kids and really enjoys this gig, I got an overwhelming sense of despair that this is where his mediocre talent had led him. Sad.

This is why I have lots and lots of movies.


Close your eyes, and imagine 118 cats.

Now close your eyes and imagine a trailer house.

Next, put the two together.

This equals the spectacle that happened here just this week.

I am endlessly fascinated by animal hoarders and garbage people. Because I simply don't get it. It is behavior that is so beyond my sphere of experience that I have no comprehension and cannot look away. I need pictures at which can shake my head in wide-eyed wonder. The extra awesome thing about this particular scenario, aside from that this is the second time a Quantity of Cats has been removed from this family's "care," is that their trailer home was also jam packed with hundreds of dolls. That ups the creep factor exponentially. The only way it could be worse is if one or the both of them spent all their time dressed as clowns.

We have three cats, and every once in a while, they seem to swarm like monkeys. These people have thirty-nine times the number of cats we do, in a smaller space, plus hundreds of dolls (HUNDREDS OF DOLLS, all staring at you with dark, frozen, plastic eyes while cats snake in and around their arms and legs). Thirty-nine times the cats we have. Trailer home. Dolls. I can't.

I just can't.

Early Intervention

Where have I been?

Doing the dishes.

Two weeks ago, it would have been baking.

Since we last met, we had a meeting with St. Paul Public Schools' Early Intervention program; Finn is grabbing his feet and sitting up much better; he's working with consonants; my dad is here helping three days a week; I am out of stored milk; and I am supposed to be back at work, but I am not. There's a lot going on, and yet, no blog. Sometimes, there's too much to write about, but much of it feels un-interesting. My whole Human Resources quest is only interesting to me at the moment, if interesting equals incredibly frustrating, and once it's resolved--if it is ever resolved, I'll report on the experience so that others can benefit.

The Early Intervention program was recommended by a colleague of Pete's. Finn does not need services at the moment, but we figure that it's good to get involved with whatever is offered just in case. Two teacher specialists came to evaluate him one morning last week, and he performed quite well, we think. They had him play with a series of toys like a mirror, a cup with blocks in it, and a plastic ring on a plastic string. They also showed him a series of pictures. As far as I am concerned, he's performing quite well on the developmental scale--they evaluated him at 5 months. I think that for some things, he's a bit ahead of 5 months. As I have said, all babies are different, and I am pleased with where he is.

He's getting so big, and it reminds me that I have to pay attention and enjoy the baby-ness because it does not last long. Our big boy is sitting, partially assisted, and playing with toys, engaging us more and more, and it's going by so fast.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Finn and I are just about off to bed, but I wanted to mention that I stopped into the NICU today to drop off treats and a card for the staff and nurses. It was a good thing; more later, but this is the card.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Say My Name

I don't understand why people want their baby's first word to be "mama" or "dada." I know who I am, and so does Finn. Word junkie though I am, it does not really matter to me whether or not he has a name for it. I would rather his first word be "baby" or "Finn."

At this point, it's moot. His vocalizations are mostly of the "lots of vowels" variety. His first word will probably be "Hi, "boob," "cup," "cat," or "book" because he hears those a lot. "Book" was the first word of one of Finn's future playmates, and it tickles me to no end, so when I am showing him things and telling him the names, "book" figures quite highly. Plus, we have hundreds of them lying about, so he might as well learn what they are right now.

Which reminds me, I have a backlog of book reviews building up.
I had better get cracking.