Friday, December 30, 2011

Spreading the News

We broke the news about little UB (Urban Banjo) to our families on Christmas morning. Each person got a calendar with a different picture of Shubu on each month. Most were themed (an orange-and-black striped outfit in October, for example), but July's was of Shubu wearing a "Big Sister" onesie and holding the sonogram. I had filled in each family member's birthday and anniversary, and on July 13, "Baby H 2.0 Due Date!" It was fun to see each person slowly "get it". My favorite was my mother-in-law, who was so touched at the calendar concept (her late mother used to do the birthday calendars) that she never made it to July. Everyone else had already seen it and shrieked, and we had to convince her to sit down and look at it more carefully.

With my Facebook friends, I had to be a little more cheeky. I posted an album with pictures of a "bump" road sign, a jar of Prego sauce, a pea pod, a hamburger bun in an oven, and finally the Big Sister/sonogram photo. I can't wait to see little UB again next week!

Excuses, Excuses

WELL, I took an almost three-week sabbatical here, but for a moderately good reason. All I could think about was pregnancy and it wasn't time to announce it online! I am 12 weeks along with baby number two.

In mid-October, I dreamt I had a new baby boy and named him Urban Banjo.

The first week of November, I had a friend and her two boys over in the morning. I made a couple of jokes about being forgetful, so I must be pregnant. Then I started counting. And thinking about how my breasts had gone up two cup sizes. And how tired I was. And how I had pimples on my forehead. And freaking. Out.

Two more friends and their babies showed up to make Christmas ornaments as the first friend left. I couldn't wait for them to leave so that I could go buy a pregnancy test. DJ was sleeping after a night shift, and hadn't gotten good rest for days, so after dashing to the drugstore and getting a big, fat PREGNANT on the digital test, I didn't want to wake him. I stayed up, panicking, all night long. I re-did our budget. I figured out what we would have to buy (a double stroller and diapers). I realized that as long as this baby did not also have allergies, we would be okay financially.

DJ took the news beautifully for having just woken up and it being a complete surprise. We took a long family walk and saw the sun rise, and later I made an appointment with a new OBGYN. We were going to become a family of four in the new year. Oh, and that dream? Was probably the night the embryo implanted.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Murphy's Laws of Childbirth

In the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about women being allowed to eat and drink during labor. Babycenter and Babble frequently mention it. Homebirthers talk about how nice it is to eat their own food in their own homes while they labor. Yet I was told immediately upon entering the L&D unit that I couldn't have anything PO. "Um... I'm not getting induced for 11 hours?" Didn't matter.

I begged DJ to bring me a snack. He refused. I cited studies that showed that it was safe to eat and drink during labor (I had recently read this article). I went about 20 hours without food or drink until my OB came in to check me. I was manipulative in how I phrased my desires.
"Dr. S, what would you recommend I eat right now?"
"I... what? Nothing. You're not supposed to eat."
"Come on. You know, and I know, that I would do better with a few calories in my system. So if I am going to drink something, what should it be?"
"Uh... iced tea?"
DONE! DJ, get me a Brisk iced tea! He reluctantly got it for me, and allowed only small sips. This was just enough to mentally get me through the rest of labor. However...
About thirty minutes after delivering, I felt a sharp, throbbing pain in the scene of the crime. A nurse came in, widened her eyes, and said "Let me get the doctor." The doctor came in and said "Ehh... I've never seen that before." Shortly afterward, I vomited, straight Brisk iced tea, as I was wheeled to emergency surgery. I was so confident that I would not need emergency surgery, that those precautions would not apply to me, and lo and behold! Since I had opted for an epidural, I did not need general anesthesia, but if I hadn't, I would have been the textbook case for not allowing eating or drinking during labor.
Everything about this experience makes me question my crunchier inclinations regarding childbirth. I love the idea of a home birth, but if I had attempted it with Shubu, I would have died. I was certain it was safe for me to eat and drink, but if I hadn't gotten the epidural (and I nearly didn't), it could have further endangered my life during surgery. With my next baby, I am torn between thinking that lightning can't strike twice, and the idea that whatever can happen, will happen to me. Just something else to think about!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Must-have Baby Items

I have a feeling that this is going to be a series post, as I can never make a comprehensive list in one try, but I have several pregnant or new-mom friends, and I keep referring them to the same products. I might as well compile them! Prerequisite every baby and every mom is different, blah blah blah, but these were my favorite or life-saving items with Shubu.

Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper
Shubu slept in this every night until she was almost six months old. I think the angle prevented reflux, plus the mesh sides made it almost like a snug little hammock. The only thing that I disliked about this was that I could not turn her head to one side or the other, and she naturally wanted to turn her head to the right. This led to the beginnings of plagiocephaly, but we carefully positioned her at other times and gave her lots of tummy time and baby-wearing time, and her little coconut is as round as can be today. I loved that this could easily be brought into the living room, so I could sleep on the couch with her if my husband needed more sleep.
Ergo Baby Carrier
I. Love. My. Ergo. I am very "into" wearing my baby. Although I somewhat agree with the philosophies behind attachment parenting, I really do it because I enjoy it. I love to bend my head and kiss her soft hair, or look into her eyes when we pass something exciting on the street. I'd rather have her stuck to my belly or back while I walk the dog or do errands than in another seat. That said, I have tried the BabyBjorn Air (gave me back pain), the Moby (jeez, not enough time in the day to get it wrapped- though nice for new newborns), and a Hotsling (loved it, till I lost 30 pounds and mine was too big). The Ergo is the most comfortable, even with a 20 pounder! The only drawback in my opinion, is that it is too bulky to be very portable. I can't just stuff it in my diaper bag like a sling.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Little Dr. Johnson

It has occurred to me that I am not being nearly obnoxious enough about my child's precocious vocabulary skills. At ten months, of course she says "Mama" (of course). But she is also spouting out many other gems, and she's quite the polyglot! Here's the current list:

Bah - short for "Bah, humbug"; she's quite the little curmudgeon
Pff - also indicates she is unimpressed by your offering
Fa - a long, long way to run
Oh - a noncommittal acknowledgement that you have spoken
Ew - a term of disgust
Oaf - she really doesn't worry about your feelings, does she?

Maman - Mama
Bas - low, like in "bas relief"
Eau - water
Oeuf - egg

I mean, honestly, have you ever encountered such a bright child in all of your days? She's a walking dictionary!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Board Game Covers

This might be on the anal-retentive side, but I did not like looking at the hodge podge of board game boxes on my living room shelf (ok, it is definitely on the anal-retentive side).

So I decided to cover the boxes with plain craft paper and put coordinating labels and ribbon wrapping on them. We also had some plain white boxes from Ikea that fit in our Expedit shelving system. The boxes were a bit boring, and frankly, too shiny for my taste. I covered the front facet with fabric and Mod Podge, and then attached the metal hardware. It was tough to pry off the metal that wrapped the handle-holes, but not too difficult to hammer them back on. I think the shelf looks much better with the navy and green accents. Sadly, I didn't take any "during" photos, but both of these projects are pretty easy to figure out without them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dumb and Dumber is NOT a Compliment

Did someone show my child Dumb and Dumber today? Because she's been making the most annoying sound in the world for three straight hours. Through bath time, dinner, and a one mile walk in an effort to distract her from doing this:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Siren Song of Perfume Samples and Ten Tips to Please My Man

I have a total magazine addiction. I love glossy magazines and their bite-sized exhortations to tone my flabby thighs (and color them orange; no one likes vampire legs), to find a hidden, secret erogenous zone on my lover (hint: it's his penis!), to cook a simple eighty-five ingredient meal in my slow cooker, to finally organize my wrapping paper closet, or to get the most out of my infant's tummy time (try playing your iPod to drown out the blood-curdling screams!).

Even though few of the articles in my copious magazines have any bearing on my real life, I just love to curl up in bed with them. The shiny, slick pages full of attractive people have that terrific department store-cum-stationery smell, and I can pretend that I am so going to buy the $34 lip gloss they recommend. In fact, I might actually buy the $34 lip gloss, only to later realize that I don't actually wear lip gloss. Oops. Same goes for kicky little "shooties" (really, guys? Shooties?) or Oprah's Favorite tumbled organic ostrich skin iPad cover. I'm totally not the demographic for this stuff. But is anyone really buying it?
Wow, it was freakishly easy to find an image for Oprah + iPad + favorite

Currently, I receive Us Weekly, O the Oprah Magazine, Self, Marie Claire (two of these each month, don't know why), Esquire, and Glamour... and in six to eight weeks, Parenting: The Early Years. It was on Zulily for a song. At least that one won't tell me that I'm fat or convince me to buy anything; only that I am a horrible parent and my child is surely well below average, but hey, I already knew that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"It Changes Everything"

How does motherhood change you? Let me count the ways. I'm watching Curiosity: Life Before Birth, and the three week old embryo's poppy seed-sized heart beat and tiny limb buds made me tear up. Before motherhood, that would have totally skeeved me out.

Tradiiiiiiiiition! (Picture Me Singing that in a Shtetl)

Dinner, A Love Story is one of those blogs that I forget to check in on for a few weeks, then have an awesome marathon session when I get back to it. If I had to classify it, it's a food and meal-centered blog (duh), but the author, Jenny, also shares stories about her family and life. One of her little girls just turned seven, with the most amazing Japanese themed birthday party. Candy sushi? Ninja headbands and tagging games? I was never that cool as a kid.

Something that caught my attention was that they have several traditions surrounding birthdays, including a pass-the-parcel game played at parties, and an annual choosing-of-the-birthday-dinner-restaurant. One of the commenters asked when traditions should be started with kids. This is a question I have been asking myself since I was first pregnant with Shubu. I don't recall growing up with a lot of family traditions, and I'd love to have holiday traditions with my children. I'm also insanely practical, and I know that a lot of what happens in the next year or two won't be remembered. I didn't get Shubu an Easter basket this year (though someone else did), but we did dress up for Halloween, and in themed outfits for St. Patrick's Day and Valentine's Day. We will be spending Christmas at my sister-in-law's house this year, so should I start traditions now, like new jammies opened on Christmas Eve, or a special Christmas book read every night in December, or wait until we are doing it at our home when she is almost two?

I'm also thinking about her first birthday coming up in January. A big birthday bash would obviously be for the benefit of the adults, but I'm not quite curmudgeonly enough to just skip it. I've considered having a small party at our home with just relatives, take-out food, and a little cake (which Allergy Queen won't get to taste). Even that gives me the familiar wedding/baby-shower vibe that smacks of "buy us gifts!" But I'd like to start birthday traditions, and eating your dinner off of the red "You Are Special Today" plate and being spoiled by grandparents is definitely a family tradition.

What traditions do you have in your family? What will you be sharing with, or starting for your children?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cooking for Baby: Vegetable Stock

I decided to make a baked potato soup in my slow cooker, and that inspired me to finally make a veggie stock to use in baby purees while I was at it.

First, I sweated a mirepoix in a little olive oil. Then I added chopped garlic and leeks, and about 2 quarts of cold water. I brought it to a simmer and cooked it for about 30 minutes. Unlike beef, chicken, or lamb stocks, it's generally not a good idea to cook vegetable stocks for a long time. Since it was for the baby, I didn't add any salt (blech; a little boring to taste while cooking).

Well. I think that it turned out well, and I made some butternut squash to puree with the stock. I thought, "Oh, fresh, homemade food! Shubu will be so excited!" To the contrary; she turned her head, blew raspberries, and refused to eat more than one bite. She also refused to eat her favorite jarred carrots, as well, so I'm trying not to take it personally. Maybe tomorrow she will eat with gusto. Otherwise... anyone want six cups of frozen vegetable stock?


The potato soup was much better received. I adapted a recipe from the Crock Pot Girls on Facebook. Super simple and delicious. Into the cooker for 4 hours on high:
8 medium peeled and cubed Idaho potatoes
32 oz chicken stock
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 gob of butter (maybe 2 tablespoons)
1 crap-ton of salt and pepper (maybe that's just my preference) (that's a crap-tonne, if you're British)

After 3.5 hours, slip in some sliced leeks (or green onions).

When 4 hours have passed, add 8 oz of heavy cream and take your potato masher to the lot. I like to leave a few big cubes of potato, and then a handful of shredded cheddar. Absolutely divine. And totally heart healthy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Well, They're No Schweddy Balls

I got a hankering to make cake balls the other day (really, this happens every time I get a cake pop from Starbucks), but I wanted something with an autumnal flair. I decided I wanted pumpkin cake balls, but I still wanted to use a mix. I rarely wing it while baking, since the time in ninth grade I tried to woo a boy with my homemade biscuits. Since I was out of baking soda, I just used baking powder instead. HARBLES! They were metallic little hockey pucks. Needless to say, no date.

I picked up a box of Duncan Hines carrot cake mix and a can of Libby's pumpkin. I used the pumpkin in place of most of the water called for with the mix, plus the listed 3 eggs and 2/3 cup oil. For good measure I added a splash of vanilla and a healthy 3 shakes of pumpkin pie spice.

Now, as a cake, this was moist and  pretty awesome. I would add a little sugar to this if I were going to do it just as a cake or cupcakes, but since I was planning to add frosting and chocolate, that would have been too zooky. For cake balls, I think it was actually a little too moist, and I would suggest omitting the splash of water that I threw in with the pumpkin.

Next, I crumbled the junk outta that cake. I cut it into 1" by 1" squares in the pan, then crumbled it with my fingers. I mixed in an entire can of cream cheese flavored frosting, and attempted to form balls. The cake and frosting mixture was so wet, I could just scoop out tablespoons and glop them onto my waxpapered cookie sheets, but they were formless. I stuck them in the freezer and hallelujah, when I pulled them out later, they were firm enough to roll into balls!

Here's where things get ugly. Literally. I melted white chocolate chips in the microwave to cover the cake balls (one cup for one minute on 80% power, then 30 second blasts afterwards; stir in handfuls of unmelted chips). This was so thick and gloppy, even when I added a couple of teaspoons of shortening, that it made giant, hulking cake balls. I also should have refrozen the balls after rolling them, because handling them made them a little squishy again (give me a second to get over the fact that I keep talking about handling warm, squishy balls).

Not too attractive. The taste, however, was divine! I have kept them in the freezer (along with uncoated ones; my husband liked them without the chocolate) and I guess if I call them truffles instead of cake balls, it works. Next time I would get the candy coating discs that are meant to be melted and make a thin coating instead of trying to get the chips to the right consistency. I also think that maybe adding sprinkles or a dark chocolate drizzle would disguise some of the ugliness from the lumpy coating. But the flavor? Is spot on.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Costumes on the Cheap!

I don't recall ever having a store-bought Halloween costume. Maybe some of the elements were store-bought, but the bulk of the costume was generally homespun. I know I dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz several (5? 7?) times, wearing a blue dress and glittery red shoes. My mother once made me a skirt from an old flour sack so I could be the pre-bibbidi-bobbodi Cinderella. I wonder if kids ever even dress as that version of her anymore! As I got older, I remember wearing my karate uniform at least once, and a few low-effort hobo costumes (Grandpa's flannel shirt? Smudge on the cheek? Bindle? Check!).

At any rate, for Shubu's first Halloween, I went classic-for-me with a Wizard of Oz theme. I already owned a blue gingham shirt, and my hair is easily braided. I bought two curly red ribbons from the stationery section of Target to stick to my sneakers, and called it a day!

Shubu's outfit was a little more abstract. She wasn't a character - she was the rainbow! "Where troubles melt like lemon drops..." We already owned the tie-dyed onesie and rainbow-striped Babylegs. I purchased the Nike mary janes on clearance ($5) at Nordstrom Rack.

The only thing I had to make was her tutu. I had fold-over elastic on hand, and picked up a roll of white tulle from Michael's for about $3. I followed this tutorial and in maybe 15 minutes, it was done!

What, is this not how you would test it?
For all of that effort, we had monsoon rains all day and night starting on the 29th. Womp womp. Under flood watch, it seemed like a bad idea to drive to Pembroke Pines to go trick or treating with a friend, so we just walked Marley Toto around the block in the rain. Happy Halloween, y'all!

Bill, Eric, Edward... Don't Watch This

This video explains how to peel an entire head of garlic in 10 seconds. Gabrielle Blair says it works! Next time I'm craving a ton of roasted garlic spread on crusty French bread, or want to make 40 Cloves of Garlic Chicken, I'm sooo trying this. Video

How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds from on Vimeo.

Quick-n-Dirty Wipes Container Craft

Hmm, maybe I shouldn't imply that it's a dirty-wipes craft; that's a little gross. I order all of my diapering supplies from with my Amazon Mom account. While it is definitely the best value for my money (well, since I'm not cloth diapering), the bulk packaging is not the most attractive. I took my Pampers wipes box...

And just added a piece of scrapbooking paper that I thought was cute.

I packing-taped it to death. If I were going to make this for someone else, I would have Mod-Podged it, and used a coordinating paper on the other three sides of the box. Since it was "just" for me, I didn't care about the other sides, since I can't see them from its spot on the changing table shelf.

The sheet of paper was 19 cents, the box was already here (free) and the packing tape... let's guess I used 6 cents worth, to bring the total cost of this craft to a whopping quarter!

I plan to eventually cover a couple of the plastic wipes dispensers with a coordinating paper. Also, if I had realized I would be publishing this photo, I would have taken the clothing off the top of the changing pad, ha ha.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Squeegees Sounds Like a Fifties Doo-Wop Group

Here's one I never saw in Heloise. I go into the guest bathroom to... well, you know. There's a strange looking sheen to the floor in the corner by the bathtub. Upon closer examination, a bottle of baby wash has tipped over and poured about 1/3 of a cup onto the floor. How the flip do you clean up soap?? Adding water seemed dumb, and it didn't seem like it would soak into a sponge or mop. I attempted to wipe it up with paper towels but hardly made a dent after 4 sections of towel, so I gave that up. It seemed like scraping would be a good idea...

The bathroom squeegee! I scraped from the top of the spill, then right-to-left. It got almost all of the soap off the floor (and then rinsed down the sink drain). Finally, I gave a little rinse to the floor with hot water and used my microfiber hair towel to sop it up (yeah, ew, but I had to get it up!) (that's what she said). I have a feeling that will not be my last parenthood-related cleaning conundrum.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Foam Flooring

Now that Shubu Lubu is cruising and getting ready to walk, I thought it would be a good idea to cover our hard terrazzo floors with some foam cushioning. I absolutely abhor the look of the rainbow-alphabet-pop-out tiles that everyone seems to get, so I got to Googling. There are gray and black foam mats available from sites like eWonderworld and We Sell Mats, but the prices with shipping were pretty high. I was looking at $70-100 with shipping for the minimum amount of flooring (enough to create a little play area in the living room, and a foam boundary around the crib in case she finally launches herself out). Even the least-garish of the colored tiles on Amazon (Skip Hop) were insanely expensive. So I started looking in stores. Lo, for the first time in my life, I found a great deal at Babies R Us. 36 square feet of (shudder) alphabet tiles in rainbow colors for $25. Even better, when the cashier rang them up, they had been reduced to $19.99 (and 20% off coupon!). I bought two packages.
In the living room, I was able to make a 4x6 foot pad underneath our area rug without it showing. I'm very pleased with that.
Now you see it...
Now you don't!

HOWEVER, the bedroom is another story. I've moved our Momeni rug to cover some of the alphabet tiles directly in front of the crib. The two side areas are still exposed and hideous. The final insult is that the letter "T" was missing from one of the sets of letters (or magically disappeared upon entering my house; not impossible). So on one side, I am short by one stinking tile. Target had black shag rugs on clearance ($12!), so I picked one up to cover some of the remaining tiles. Even though I don't like the easily picked apart letters, I'm happy to have spent about $90 less than I had originally anticipated.

Kind of Oops Romper Re-do

I bought Shubu some long-sleeved rompers for our trip to New York this Christmas when they went on sale a few weeks ago, thinking she would be in 12 month clothes around the age of, oh, I don't know, 12 months. Well, I will never learn my lesson, apparently; she started wearing 12 month clothes at 8 months and it is too dang hot in Miami to wear long sleeves right now.

My first thought was to just rip the seam and remove the sleeves. Simple, no? However, after I started ripping, I found that the seam also attached the binding on the short part of the sleeve. Oops. I stitched the binding back on in quite the mediocre fashion. It looks a bit like how I imagine Mary from the Little House on the Prairie series' sewing looked. You know, after the fever that took her sight. The other sleeve I just cut as closely as possible to the seam and left the raw edge inside.
If no one looks too closely at the back of her left sleeve, I'll call it a success! And if they do look too closely, I'll explain that it was mended by a blind girl, struck by scarlet fever and a stroke. If they judge that, they're assholes.

In the Blog House

I've been asked by several people in the last month where they can read me, or why I don't consider myself a writer. The last comment was the tipping point, and I started asking myself why not. The very valid reasons are because I don't have confidence in my writing, nor in my ability to be consistent about it. Before this winter, I also didn't have an appropriate topic (as a middle school teacher, blogging about work screamed "liability!" to me). However, I now have an endlessly entertaining baby, and I know that the only way to become good at something is to practice it. So... tally ho!