December 5, 2011

Nothing like a tiny finger jammed up your nose at 4 am

Back when I said we didn't cosleep? Spoke too soon, apparently.

I don't have a problem with the concept, I just didn't think it would be for us.

When the babe stopped sleeping through the night, she wouldn't go back down alone. In the interest of us all getting sleep, she stayed in bed.
Then she started fighting sleep and it took a dark room and cuddling to get her down.

I figured it was just a phase. Too much fun to be had to take naps. I asked the pediatrician at her check up when I should start being concerned, but I think she misunderstood my question. She uttered the words "sleep training" and I pretty much tuned out the rest of what she said.
I don't care for cry it out methods, period. I think if she's crying, it's because she needs something, even if that something is just to be held. Since I don't have another job at this point, that's what I do.
Also, if a baby previously slept through the night just fine and has always been a good self-soother, what exactly am I trying to teach her?

It occured to me this week that I never asked my husband how he felt about the arrangement. We didn't intend to cosleep, though we were both smart enough to not rule anything out. It just kind of happened. Luckily, he doesn't mind right now either. But we'd both like the bed back sooner rather than later.

For someone who doesn't have strong feelings about it one way or the other, I'm amazed at how vehemently I've been defending our sleeping arrangement, even when gently prodded. Granted, the one doing most of the prodding is my mother. She thinks if the baby is sleeping on her own, she'll get overnight visits. And history leaves me much more likely to react to an "innocent" remark from my mom than from a friend or random stranger.

Like all of the other choices we've made or fallen into, we're doing what works for us as a family. And that's what counts. Last night, when the babe was almost asleep, she opened her eyes, rolled back over and reached out with both arms to touch my face. I wouldn't have had that moment if we were doing things differently. And I wouldn't trade it for an extra 20 minutes in the evening.

November 23, 2011

Out of practice

I used to write all the time. I pretty much always had a notebook with me. My hand would be stained with ink and sometimes, I had trouble deciphering what I'd written later. Bus rides are not good for penmanship, nor are hand cramps.
Then I became a business owner and had neither time nor energy left at the end of the day.
I think part of that, too, is just getting older. When I was in my early twenties, a pool table or a dart board were a must at at bar, because who wants to just sit and drink? Over the last few years I've found that I'd rather perch at the bar and chat after a long day.

I keep writing posts and deleting them because they're pretty incoherent. Most days, I barely have time to get my thoughts down, let alone organized.
I don't think I've atrophied, I'm just extremely out of shape.

My priority now is my family. Raising my daughter, loving my husband, taking care of our home. Also making sure I have enough left for myself, in order to do the preceding well.
I keep saying "after the new year," as in after the new year, I'll start to look for a part time job, I'll start writing regularly, I'll get to my to-do list. This isn't an attempt at a New Year's resolution. It's simply that I make a lot of handmade gifts and the few months leading up to Christmas are filled with knitting, sewing and baking.
It's hard to talk about it without it sounding like excuses. There's always something, no matter what you're trying to do or not do. So just do it, already.
Gently. I don't want to sprain anything, because an injury would really set me back.

November 17, 2011

Phantom babies

From what I understand (meaning I've talked to a couple of women and they report the same thing), it's pretty normal to hear babies crying. When there aren't actually any babies crying, I mean.
I'll be in the shower and think I hear the babe wake up from her nap. After I turn off the water, it's clear there's no way I could have heard her over the fan and water from behind a closed door.
We'll be watching TV in the evening and have to mute it and listen. I sneak to the bottom of the stairs and stand there, looking up into the darkness, for no reason.
Compounding this problem is the fact that we live in a duplex and our next door neighbors have a baby that cries all the time. It's hard to tell sometimes which walls the cries are coming through. (The cries are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!)

The last four or five days, she's woken up every half hour after going down for the night, needing soothing. I'm really hoping she's working on some big new skill and in a few more days, she'll be back to sleeping a little longer. Cause most of my phantom babies this week have turned out not to be phantom babies at all.

November 10, 2011

Modern Housewifery, week 2

I'm just starting to get my feet back under me and feel normal again after the last month. I can't imagine how I'll feel once the kid starts sleeping longer stretches at night again. A lady can dream.

Meanwhile, I've baked three (three!) loaves of bread this week, on top of cooking dinner every night, cleaning the house before it looked disgusting and keeping up on the laundry.
I think I'm gonna like this.

November 9, 2011

More please

There are days and hours I just try to get through. My head is filled with all the things that need to get done. Dinner, cleaning, wrapping up loose ends. I try to stay in the present, try to appreciate the moment, but it's hard. Especially when the moment is a teething, tired baby.

And then I'm blindsided with a moment like last night. Nothing special or out of the ordinary, just something that grabs me by the shoulders and shakes and says "This. This makes everything better. This is what matters." A baby that's laughing so hard she can't catch her breath, I can't catch my breath or see through the tears.

This. It's enough to keep me going and remind me that while all this is fleeting for me, it's not for her. Make the moments matter.

November 6, 2011

Add it to the list

During my pregnancy, the hormones (that's the ticket!) caused me to get irrationally angry at nonsense. Hearing the non-word "baconnoiseur" would set me off. Luckily, it was mostly in good humor and never lasted long. Also luckily, ad writers seem to have held off until after my hormones settled down to unleash particularly egregious examples.

1. "Power chords of taste-ocity." I don't even know what this means.

2. Adorkable. Yup, Zooey Deschanel strikes again.

I hear there's an opening for an Andy Rooney. Let me update my resume.

October 29, 2011

Dress up!

We moved a lot when I was a kid. One of the last moves, we lost a box. Of course, it was the box with the photo albums. Hence, this is the only picure I have of myself in costume.
I really wish I had a picture of my second grade costume. It was the first and last year my mom went all out making a costume. Black "leather" mini skirt and jacket, gold sequin tube top, fishnet stockings, black boots, black lace gloves, giant bow in hair that was teased insanely high for a seven year old. Yes, I wanted to be Madonna as a kid.

You'll have to settle for this photo of my husband and his older brother instead. I love that C3PO is wearing a picure of himself.

October 28, 2011

In which I avoid getting all Hallmark Channel-y

I've been trying to write this post all week.
I owned a business. Past tense now.
Everyone keeps asking how I'm doing. Pretty okay, actually. The thing is, I've already done my mourning. I knew we were ready to have a family and I wouldn't have the time and energy to devote to it anymore. Coupled with the economic situation, the writing has been on the wall for the last couple of years.
It sucks that things ended the way they did, no doubt about it. You can't force other people to take steps they aren't ready to take.
I will miss everybody. We were part of a great community. That's the hard part.
I will not miss being a business owner. It's draining and difficult in the best of times.
Luckily, I've got the best distraction in the world.

So what comes next? That's kind of the exciting part, isn't it?

October 14, 2011

You know what really grinds my gears?

I've mentioned before that people seem to think having a baby makes you some sort of expert on babies. I've now come to the realization that this is because lots of folks feel that having a baby makes them some sort of expert on babies.

We don't do this with other stuff. I drive a car, therefore I am an expert on ALL THE CARS. I have a job, therefore, I could do your job with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back. Your job requires the use of at least one hand? Poppycock.

But babies?

I cannot count the times other, mostly new, parents have said things that specifically relate to their baby as if it was a given that all babies would behave the exact same way.
I know your baby drooled through five bibs a day, but mine doesn't. Yet.
I know the only thing that saved your sanity was the swing, but we've been fine without one.
I know you had to move every single item you didn't want ruined up out of your toddler's reach, but I don't think babies are automatically bad for books. We'll see when we get there.

Not only do these people offer their opinions and experience as gospel, but they expect my baby to be just like their baby. I know she doesn't seem hungry or fussy to you, but I know my baby and she's hungry and also seriously pissed right now. Hand her back.

We knew going into this that all babies are different (imagine that) and we've figured out what works for us, right now. Next week, I'm sure that will change. And if you ask me, I'll tell you what we're doing and what works for us.
I'm also aware that you and your baby are not us. So knock it off. Otherwise, I will quit pretending your child is cute.

October 7, 2011

What have we always said is the most important thing?

Okay, this time it's actually breakfast. Not family. Not that family isn't important.

I'm a breakfast gal. I get cranky when I'm hungry. I need energy to get me through to lunch. It's even more important now. There are days when I barely let my husband get in the door before I yell "Ha ha, sucker" and thrust a baby at him and proceed to devour half of the refrigerator. Nevermind that he just got off work, hasn't eaten either and is usually kind of stinky. That can wait. Must feed the woman who nourishes the baby first.


I found this recipe for Baked Oatmeal over at Budget Bytes. Um, yum.
I make this at the beginning of the week, and have breakfast for the next four days. I know it says six servings, but nursing mom here.
The first time, I made it exactly like Beth (minus the blueberries, actually). I found it to be just a tad too gingery.
I adjust the spices depending on what fruit I'm using and add about one tablespoon of flax seeds.

Now that winter's coming, I might be making this twice a week.

September 30, 2011


So, I may have mentioned that I'm not particularly keen on revealing a ton of details about who I am. (Who the government says I am, anyway. I'm fine with revealing the inside of my head). Mostly because it would be pretty awkward if my legion (yes, legion) of fans tracked me down at work. Or if someone I knew professionally came across this blog and got some details I might not be comfortable sharing with them. This all sounds strange out of context, I'm sure. What it comes down to is this: being an entrepreneur sucks.
The plan, which was working pretty well so far, was for me to only work part time post-baby. Being self-employed came back to bite me in the ass this week, and I'll be working every day. Nope, no weekends even. For the forseeable future. There are some options we're looking into and honestly, the options are things we should've been doing already. (I won't get into why. Details.)
Which leaves me with less time with my husband and grimy-necked baby. And less time for posting. I hate it when bloggers apologize for not posting more often or being gone without explanation. It usually sounds silly, because it's just life getting in the way and I get that.
Life is getting in the way. I can't make any promises on the quantity or quality of my posts until something changes.
In the meantime, here's a picture of a baby.

September 27, 2011

On IKEA and feeding

I'm thankful we have an IKEA in town now and don't have to drive to Seattle once a year, and cram the car and tie stuff on top with flimsy twine that we have to keep pulling onto the shoulder of I-5 to check because it looks like things are moving and come home with stuff we probably don't need because it'll be another year before we go. I don't go more often than once a year anyway, but it's nice to know the option exists.

This is what we came home with yesterday.

We already owned the baby. I mean the high chair and rattle. She's not ready for eating yet, but it's nice to be able to sit her at the table while we eat.
We're planning on doing the baby-led weaning thing. It just sounds much simpler and more sensible than the puree thing. This being our first and the only baby we've spent a good deal of time around, we really don't know, but that's our impression. And when I say "we" and "our," I clearly mean me. My husband just kind of nods and goes with it.

The pediatrician gave her approval of the plan, but none of our friends or acquaintances have heard of this. Neither had the nutritionist at the WIC office. I explained what we were planning on doing and she proceded to give me instructions about how to introduce cereal and purees. Oh well. Smile, nod, ignore. Golden advice for parenting.

So far, the only food-related thing she's shown interest in is beer. I should be more specific: it's the bottle she's interested in. The teething continues, but still no actual teeth to show for it. She will, however, have a lovely collection of photos to give CPS.

September 21, 2011

Coffee table

I hate it when a how-to or before and after is all, "Oh, I found this at at yard sale for $2 and repainted it! Oh, this old thing? I just had it laying around." So, I apologize in advance. But check out my new coffee table.

My father-in-law had a coffee table on his front porch for the last 20 years, built by his father. It got tossed when we did some cleaning this year, as the wood was ruined. I did manage to scavenge the legs, which needed a bit of sanding and a new coat of black Rustoleum.
If you don't just happen to have a set of hairpin legs lying around, the internet says you can get them here or here. (I want to order some tall ones for a console table now.)
I found the white table top in the as-is section at IKEA for $5. When it inevitably gets trashed, I'll put the legs on a nice piece of rustic-looking, salvaged wood. That I probably won't just have laying around, but hopefully can find at The Rebuilding Center.

Do not talk to me about the carpet.

This is about the price I can afford for decorating.
We have been pretty lucky in inheriting or rescuing pieces from relatives. That side chair? The in-laws' basement. I spent about $40 to put new cushions and seat straps on it. We also got a great hutch and dibs on the cracked ice dinette set. The side table? My grandparents' attic. Also took the accordian lamp that was in the family room when I was a kid. I don't know why they took it down, because the rest of their family room is exatcly the same: mirror wall, giant chess pieces and black and orange shag carpet.
I think we've run out of relatives to plunder, so we're on our own finding a nice rug.

September 19, 2011

Sane fears will make you crazy

In summing up, I kind of glossed over a lot of the details that led to surprise! baby. You'll have to get used to disappointment, cause I'm skipping them again here. The important point is that when surprise! baby was born, she weighed 5 lb 3 oz.
She was below the 5th percentile for weight and length and her head circumference fell on the wrong side of the Probably Not Arbitrary Line of Concern.
Babies can be small for gestational age for lots of reasons. We seemed to fall into either the No Idea camp or the Well, You're Small camp.
Right after delivery, when they told us about her head size, I pretty much put any possible issues out of my mind. It wasn't until the pediatrician visited us the next day and cheerily said, "Well, everything's symetrical!" that I started to rethink that position.

SGA babies can have developmental problems, especially learning disorders and ADHD. Although technically full term, they can also have the same problems as preemies. Her tiny head size brought on worries about brain development, but nothing we'd know until she started missing her milestones.

I'm sure every mom worries to some degree about whether her baby is healthy and developing normally. But when you've been told within 12 hours of her birth that you'll just have to wait and see, it's nerve wracking.
She measured at less than 35 weeks at birth, so technically we can consider her up to five weeks early and thus, up to five weeks behind in her development. Which makes keeping track of whether she's "behind" kind of difficult.

We did have some problems early on, related to her small size. Most notably, nursing, which she didn't do well until she was nine weeks old.

I was exhausted from the feeding routine (offer breast, maybe sort of nurse, maybe not, then bottle feed, then pump then repeat ALL DAY). I didn't really think much about it; it was just what needed to be done and eventually it would be over. I'm sure it contributed to my rising panic when she hadn't smiled yet.
All the baby tracker things said to start expecting smiles at six weeks, usually eight tops. I'd seen her smile in her sleep, but not at us. Her favorite thing seemed to be the light fixture in the living room, and she didn't smile at that either.
We'd get up in the morning and do the feeding thing all day, interspersed with some napping. She was awake more, so we'd have face-to-face time and I'd try to get her to smile. And she didn't. And my terror level would start rising. It'd ease back down while I was busy with something else, but as soon as it was baby time, it'd start racheting up again. It was a little like being on one of those old-school roller coasters, that click click click slow climb, building tension before the first big plunge. For days. Weeks, actually.

And then we started seeing little glimmers of smiles. Then she started nursing, then unquestionably smiling, and now we've taken to calling her Grimy Neck Gigglypants.

All is okay. For now.

The for now is the hardest part. Again, I think every mom worries. But I somehow feel more justified in worrying.
Mostly, I don't think about it. So far (there it is again), she's awesome. She's doing all the things she should and she's so into everything, I think she's gonna be really smart. Everyone comments on how alert and bright-eyed she is, and adorable and good.
But it's there, under the surface. I worry because I have no control over it, and even though it's a totally sane, justified fear, I don't think it makes any more sense than my irrational fears.

I don't really care for crazy. I maybe should've thought of that before we reproduced, but I'm pretty good at taking things as they are, so we're good. For now.

September 15, 2011

Two pieces of advice

See, I'm at it already, offering advice that no one was asking for.

First, if you're going to the trouble of making a fitted Tshirt, you should probably check that the jersey knit fabric you're using actually stretches. Any point before you try to put said Tshirt over your head and get it stuck around your elbows is a good time.
On a related note, I've made a dress that the girlie can wear when she's four or five.

Second, and this probably only applies if you're a cat or you have a VERY strong aversion to being touched, don't lay down next to the kicking baby's feet if you don't want to be kicked. It is NOT okay to lash out with your claws to make the kicking stop. I don't care if you've been giving her the stink eye for three minutes now.

I have always been a figure it out for myself kind of gal, so I don't expect you take my word for it. I also don't like to say "I told you so," so after you figure it out for yourself, feel free to come to me and we can commiserate together about our stupidity and lack of foresight.

September 12, 2011

Irrational fears

Our brains are strange things. We have impulses - actually, I'm not even sure I want to call them impulses because we have no desire to act on them - to do crazy things. I get mine while driving. What would happen if I suddenly veered off the road here? What if I took my foot off the brake while these pedestrians are crossing in front of me? I'm never going to actually do this stuff, I just think about it.

Much the same way, I've got strange, irrational fears. I don't really worry about any of this. I wouldn't say it kept me up at night, though laying in bed before sleep is prime time for thinking about it.
I used to wonder what would happen if the house was bombed. Or if an atomic weapon was dropped on our city.
Driving over bridges, I worry that there'll be an earthquake, the bridge will fall into the river and I'll have to wait for the water pressure to equalize before I can escape from the car.
I don't particularly like planes. I know statistically driving is much more dangerous, but your chances of survival if something happens seem better on the ground than in the air. Heaven forbid you're over water. And my husband wants to go to Hawaii. He also says since he's already been in a plane crash, what are the odds it'll happen again? I remind him of the guy who's been struck by lightning seven times.

Lately, I'm worrying about the kid. Not any of the sane fears or even irrational stranger danger. I keep hearing the awful thud her head would make if I dropped her on the pavement. I have no intention of dropping her head first on the back steps, but nearly every time we go outside, I hear it. Sometimes I tighten my grip a little bit. Mostly I just let it play there and try to ignore it.
I wonder how long before that goes away and it becomes something else. I wonder what the next thing will be. I hope it doesn't make that knot in the pit of my stomach, but I'm sure it will.
Also, I picture myself falling down the stairs. I imagine my husband coming home to hear the baby crying and find me lying in the hall with my head bent at an awkward angle.

Despite the fact that no one talks about it, I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Sometimes I wonder if we've made too many irrational fears seem rational.
The hospital had lo-jack for the baby. There have been 128 baby snatchings in the last 30 years. That works out to about 4 per year and there are more than 4 million births every year. They warn you to take your baby to the bathroom with you and to always check the nurses ID tags. While it is tragic, is this really something we should spend our time worrying about?
When I was growing up, we were warned not to take candy from strangers. I always assumed it was because an offer of candy would get us close enough to be kidnapped. I don't think that happened very often, but probably more so than people lacing candy with drugs and handing it out ON PURPOSE. Every Halloween they warn us against homemade treats and tell us where you can get your candy x-rayed. Then the follow-up article says there has never been a case of anyone putting razor blades or needles in candy or children poisoned. But you know, be safe.

When I was 12, I babysat for other children. I know folks who don't let their 12 year olds walk two blocks to school by themselves. I can't really imagine what they're worried about, but they're worried all the same.

I wonder why this is considered any more reasonable than my fear that she'll stop breathing.

I worry that I'm gonna turn into that parent in a few years. I talk good now, but I'm terrified I'm gonna change my mind.
Even more scared than I am of octopuses on land.

September 9, 2011

The most hated question

People keep asking us if we're getting any sleep. This has overtaken "Is it hot enough for ya?" as my least favorite question.
Yes, we're getting sleep. Maybe not a lot. Or all at once, but yes, we're sleeping.

We actually had a sleeper. It came out of nowhere at 8 weeks old and just as abruptly stopped a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it while it lasted. I'm hopeful that she'll start sleeping longer again before her teeth start coming in for reals, but I'm not taking it for granted.

We have friends with a 7 week old. They're trying some sort of sleep training thing, where they schedule his feedings. I didn't mean to sound so snotty, but when she told me I said, "Good luck with that." I actually do hope it works for them, because if it doesn't, they're just making it more difficult on themselves.

Babies change so quickly it's baffling to me to expect them to stick to a schedule. But I hear some people have nap time and bedtime routines at 3 months old. We're not there yet.
I didn't mind when I had a baby that slept for 7 hours at night. Without waking up. Now I'm a little jealous.
I can count on her to go down for a nap about one and a half hours after we get up in the morning. Most days. Sometimes only for 20 minutes. Sometimes two hours.
There'll be another nap at some point later in the afternoon and maybe another in the evening. Or not. We don't know.
She will usually fall asleep between 9 pm and 10 pm, though. And most of those nights, she stays asleep for at least three hours. Unless she wakes up again when I come to bed.
But hey, she sleeps on her own. Except when she wakes back up as soon as I put her down. Depending on how tired I am, I'll try this as many as three times before she comes to bed with me. Where she promptly falls asleep. Until the next feeding.

But yes, we're getting sleep, so please quit asking.

September 8, 2011

Why am I encouraging this?

About a week ago, the babe stopped putting up such an unholy fuss when on her stomach and started trying to get things just out of her reach.
She's not really close to figuring out crawling yet, but she's getting there.
When her head is up, so are her feet. Conversely, in order for her to push with her feet, her head also has to be on the ground. Which results in her pushing her face across the blanket millimeters at a time.
Seeing her work so hard, I put my hands against the soles of her feet so she's got something to push against. Now she's pulling one knee at a time forward.
Luckily, she's still forgetting her arms, so once she moves a few inches, they're underneath her. She'll keep inching forward, but it's not very effective.

Most of the skills she's developed so far have been from can't to can, so it's pretty amazing to be able to see process. Lots of little tiny victories every day.
Then I stop and realize that once she masters this, I can't just plop her on a blanket and expect her to be there when I turn around.
I will never be able to pee again.

Who needs to pee?

September 6, 2011

From trash to not-so-trash

Some of my earliest memories are listening to records at my great grandma's house. My mom had a record player too, but her disco records were of no interest to me. In high school, I asked for a turntable of my own and scoured Goodwill for records that weren't Englebert Humperdink. In all this time, I've never had proper furniture for any stereo. For a long time, I used an IKEA nightstand. Then I used a metal trolley. Finding a cool hi-fi stand that doesn't cost a fortune is not easy in this town. I decided I'd have to build one in the meantime. That was pretty much where things stood until this week. And voila!

This is not a finely crafted work of art. It was built entirely from scrap, but it will serve its purpose with slightly more form than its predecessors.

I used an old coffee table that had seen better days for no reason other than I had it and didn't want to throw it away. The rest of the frame was fashioned from 2x2s and 1/2-inch plywood. When I say I, I should clarify that while I was fully prepared to do this myself, my grandfather ended up doing quite a bit of the work. I went to his house to use his shop and he's retired, so I couldn't keep him out of it if I'd tried.
I filled in the gaps and nail holes with wood filler and put a few coats of white paint on the frame and legs. (And this time I actually do mean I did it.)

And that was it. It took a little longer than it probably should have, baby and all. But considering some days I'm happy if we unload the dishwasher, I'm not complaining.

Some music is meant to be heard on vinyl.

September 5, 2011

September 1, 2011


I love pizza. But I'm a snob about it. Most pizza is just not that great, and at $20-30, not budget friendly either. So I make my own. When you make the dough a day or two ahead, it's pretty awesome. But even if you're lazy or impulsive, same day dough is better than crappy delivery.
Barbecue chicken with mushrooms

Put 1 1/3 cup warm water in a bowl with 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast. That's 1 packet for those of you following along, but it's way cheaper to buy bulk if you do any amount of baking. Once the yeast is dissolved, add 2 tsp sugar, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 2 T olive oil. Mix in about 3 3/4 c bread flour. If you've ever made bread or dough, you know why I say about. If you haven't, you want to mix in just enough flour so that the dough is not sticky, which can vary based on the day (and how much flour is actually in your cup). I will sometimes replace 1/2 c of the flour with 1/2 c of wheat germ, to health it up a little. All-purpose flour will work, but bread flour has more gluten, which equals more chewy, which equals yum.

I finally got a stand mixer last year and my carpal tunnel still sends thank you notes. If you're kneading by hand, it will take about 15 minutes. Either way, you want the dough to be smooth and elastic. Pull it. If it stretches, you're good. If it breaks, keep going. You've probably heard of the windowpane test, but I make this with kids and they don't have the patience to knead that long. It turns out fine.

Thai chicken with sweet chili sauce and squash

If you're planning ahead, put the dough in a large tupperware and pop it in the fridge. You could also put half in the fridge for later and leave half out to rise. If you're leaving the dough out, cover it and leave for 1 1/2 hours. Pull the chilled dough out of the fridge a little while before you need to use it so it can come up to room temperature.

Divide the dough in half and pat into a little disk. Grab the edge of the disk like an old woman clutching her handbag. Let the weight of the dough do the work for you. Move your hands around the edge, letting the dough stretch. It will want to stretch much thinner in the middle than on the edges, so watch for impending tears. You can also get all showy and toss the dough, but you better make sure your floor is clean. Let your pizza dough rest for a few while you get your toppings ready.

Your oven should be hot. Really hot. At least 450°. Hopefully, you've preheated a pizza stone too, but a baking sheet will be fine. Use a little cornmeal on your stone or pan and build the pizza on top. I don't know anyone personally who owns a pizza peel, but if you do, go ahead and use it. (Though if you do, I have no idea why you'd be reading my pizza tutorial.)

Pesto with tomato and kalamata olives

I find 12 minutes is perfect in my oven, but your mileage may vary. Let cool before you slice, if you want the cheese to stay on the pizza. (Also, use a cutting board, not your stone.)


August 26, 2011

Is it just me?

I can't figure out if other people think all new parents know everything about babies or if it's just me.

I do have a head for trivia. I collect random bits of info and store it away, like a squirrel wanting to be fat and happy through winter. As a matter of fact, just yesterday I was telling a relative that newborns are nose-breathers, that's why they sneeze so much. I did say I had no idea when they learn to also breathe through their mouths, but at four months old, I'm sure it's the nose-breathing and not hay fever.

On the other hand, people keep asking me really specific questions about her developmental timeline.
I had a friend ask if she recognized her name yet. This was a few months back. After I said oh god no, she wanted to know when the babe would be able to. I don't know.
The first few months, everyone wanted to know if she could see across the room yet. I don't know.

I said before pregnancy that I wasn't going to be the type to read parenting books. My husband threw that back in my face as I read baby books during the pregnancy. I guess he didn't get the distinction. I meant I wasn't going to read the how to books, the ones that say if this, then that, with parenting styles that have names. I did want to be prepared, in general, for what to expect. You know, like the Boy Scouts.
So, I read a few pregnancy books, then a few baby books and a couple of breastfeeding books. Apparently, this has made me an expert. (Seriously. The lactation consultant at the hospital was surprised my "technique" was spot on.)
I always assumed we were being much more laid-back in our approach than most modern day, neurotic parents. Turns out, we're more like the kids who took the SAT prep course.

I guess it's paying off. We haven't ruined her yet.

August 25, 2011

Setting the bar low

We were at a wedding over the weekend. My husband was one of the groomsmen. He began his slightly tipsy speech by saying "The groom hasn't always had the best taste in women." There was a collective pause as everyone held their breath. One of those exes was AT the wedding. He totally saved it; I don't remember exactly what was said, but it was very nice.
I was talking to him later about that moment and he repeated something he's said before: you gotta start out negative and then you go positive and it's that much better.
So, is that what you've been doing for the last 15 years then?

(We tease out of love. Okay, at first it was just me and my husband kind of hated it, but now he's used to it and dishes as good as he gets. I would never, ever say something horrible about someone I didn't know or didn't like, but if I love you? Better cover your soft underbelly.)

August 22, 2011

Black bean, corn & sweet potato enchiladas

I am not a food photographer. Clearly. But I do love to eat. And cook. This is a super simple dinner, suitable to make ahead for the freezer or throw together on a weeknight.
I'm not a vegetarian (hello, bacon), but I do like to make meatless meals, both for cost and environmental reasons. And sweet potatoes are chock full of good stuff.

Cut the kernels off an ear of corn.
Dice half of a medium sized sweet potato. Saute for a few minutes to give it a head start. Mix with the corn, a can of black beans and about half a can of diced green chiles.
Warm your corn tortillas in a skillet or in the oven. Spoon the filling in, roll and place in baking dish. Continue until you run out of filling.
Pour sauce over enchiladas. I like Trader Joe's salsa verde, but use whatever you like. Sprinkle with grated cheese. I used colby jack.
Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes, until all golden and crunchy.

I think sour cream is crucial and a salad is nice too. That wasn't too hard, was it?

August 19, 2011

On my high horse

I know you've been waiting with bated breath to find out our parenting choices. Do we cosleep? (no) Do we breastfeed? (yes) How about diapers? I'm so glad you asked.

Using disposables was never an option for me. If I'd even thought of it, the Hypocrite Police would've been on me in an instant. So. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I started doing serious research.
Cloth diaper aficionados really love their all-in-ones and pocket diapers. Which sounded great, if overwhelming, but too spendy for me. (It's not just the environmental factor at work here; we're poor.) I eventually landed on prefolds with Thirsties Duo covers.

First, I'll give you the cost breakdown. We currently have 36 infant prefolds (a mix of Indian and Chinese) and 6 Size One covers. We will have 24 premium prefolds and 5 or 6 Size Two covers by the time we need them. We also have a large wet bag and two small wet bags for dirty diapers and wipes. I made a stack of cloth wipes from an old flannel nightgown. This should be plenty to get us through potty training and our next kid. All told, that's about $325. For everything.
Constrast that with an estimate of disposables costing $70 per month. That's $1600 if you potty train at two. For just the one child. We're set to break even next month.
Washing the diapers does add a bit more, but we haven't seen a huge increase. Our water bill went up, but there was also rate increase over the same time period. Our elecric bill has been dropping since we don't need to turn on the heat, so it's hard to say how much more drying is costing us. (I would really love to line dry, but we have no yard. And we live in Portland, where it rains even in the summer.) So maybe, maybe it's costing us an extra $15 per month for laundering.

So far it's a no-brainer. But what about actually using the things? That's where the drawback is, right?
I was actually pretty surprised at the skepticism I was met with when I said we were doing cloth. It wasn't so much cloth diapers themselves, but the washing. People tilted their heads and got that well, we'll see how you do look.
Munchkin was too small when she was born to fit into her diapers, so we used disposables for the first couple of weeks. (And no, I didn't feel that guilty. A combination of sleep deprivation and knowing it was only temporary, I guess.) I can tell you that using disposables was not any easier than using cloth. Even my husband agrees, despite his first few awkward folding attempts. And I think that was probably due more to her size than the diapers.
He is reserving final judgement until she starts solids, because the breast feeding, it makes the washing so easy. We throw dirty diapers into the wet bag. When a cover gets dirty, it goes in too. We use a spray bottle of plain water to wet the wipes and they get thrown in the bag as well. Every 2 to 3 days, I do a load of laundry. I dump the whole bag into the washer and run a rinse cycle. Then I add a scoop of Charlie's Soap and wash on hot. The covers get hung to dry and the rest go into the dryer. There's not even any folding, though I do stack the diapers to put away.
We have not had any blowouts and this is a baby that saves her poop for days. We haven't had to strip the diapers yet either. The only thing is that the leg gussets on the covers have a tendency to stain, but an afternoon of sunshine gets them white again.

I can be honest with you, Internet. I do not get why everyone thinks this is so hard. I have a really hard time not sounding judgy and cavalier when talking to friends that use disposables. These are the choices I've made that work for our family. Your choices are yours. I truly believe that. But. There are valid reasons to choose disposables over cloth, but the percieved difficulty of cloth is not one of them.

I'm going to distract you with picture of tiny baby in said diapers while I dismount.

August 16, 2011

Let me sum up

You've probably surmised that I recently had a baby. I've always wanted to be a mom, despite my grandmother recently telling me that I apparently once said I wasn't sure if I wanted kids. This was at the same age I loved me some LM Montgomery and remember wanting six kids and to live on a farm. I've actually been pretty ready the last few years, but things, you know.
The pregnancy was great. I dealt with things like extreme fatigue and pregnancy induced gingivitus, but overall, I loved being pregnant. I wanted to wait until I was showing to take belly pictures, with the result that I took only one, the week before I gave birth, at the request of my sister-in-law.
I do not look 37 weeks pregnant.

Knowing that first babies are usually born after their due dates and since I was also measuring small, I was sure I'd be going over the due date. Even after my midwife sent me in for an ultrasound at 38 weeks and the ultrasound department sent me to Labor & Delivery for a non-stress test. Everything looked great (except for the fluid loss), so I was convinced the nurse was joking when she said I might be having the baby today. She assured me she wasn't, and then I did.
Pre-pregnancy, I was considering natural childbirth. I didn't know what to expect or what I could handle. As we got closer, I became more and more convinced that was the right way to go for me. Finding out I'd have to get a catheter kind of put me over the top. So when the doctor told me he was inducing me, I was worried that was right out the window. Though there were a few things I'd like to have been able to do differently, I had a great, med-free delivery.
The best piece of advice I recieved was that when you think you can't take any more, that's when it's pretty much over and time to actually have the baby. And it was true for me. Those last few contractions hurt like a monkeylover, but that adrenaline really does help.
What I'd like to pass on, the thing nobody bothered to tell me beforehand, but then were all oh, yeah, of course not was the fact that no one leaves you alone in the hospital. You'd think that they'd let you get some sleep after your long labor and delivery, but no.

This is what turned out to be the last calm, quiet moment.

I hope that isn't a sign of things to come.

August 8, 2011

Just the random musings from a day in the life of a quirky mommy

Who the hell starts a blog in 2011?
I do, apparently.

I thought about starting a blog last year while I was pregnant. I wanted to be able to have a record of the experience, but it seemed really weird to be documenting it for zero people. I guess I was too lazy to get a book and you know, write a real journal.
It must seem less weird now, because here I am, blogging to nobody. For propriety's sake, I'm going to pretend someone is reading. More than one someone, even.

I'm not planning on making an effort to conceal my identity, but I'm not going to reveal a ton of details, either. Let's just say I find it easier to be honest if I don't know you know you. And to a certain degree, my blogging persona will be a persona. I may omit or exaggerate facts, just for the sake of a good story, though usually I find the truth is funny enough. Or tragic. Whichever.

This can be a totally one-sided relationship - I'm cool with that, though I would like to get to know you, too. We'll take things slowly though, shall we?

Also, the title of this post wanted to make me stick a fork in my eye.