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.)