Friday, December 26, 2014

Seven Quick Takes on the Feast of Stephen

Remember how I mentioned last week that Tad and I were sick with a stomach bug? Well, Scott got a mild version of that, and then he got a head cold of doom and spent yesterday (Christmas) lying around being miserable. He's spent most of the last few days doing that, actually, but yesterday was the worst.

To make our week even more interesting, our car refused to start on Sunday. My mom came down Monday afternoon and we were able to get it towed and do some last-minute Christmas shopping. On Tuesday morning the car repair people called back to say, hey, they don't think anything is wrong with the car at all, they think the microchips in the key have just degraded so the car no longer recognizes it. Sure enough, I walked down there with our spare key and the car was all better.

Why car keys have microchips in them I will never know.

In the middle of the car fiasco, Tad learned how to pry those little plastic outlet covers off the outlets. He likes to slobber all over them and then attempt to stick them back in. Yeah.... 

We used packing tape to tape them down. He was very upset when he first discovered our betrayal, but now he ignores the outlets. Probably he's busy plotting how to get the tape off.

Then on Tuesday night there were two different occasions when Scott and I both saw Tad walk about a dozen steps at a time. The second time he was even bold enough to attempt to walk across the open living room. (He obviously didn't make it all the way.) Until that point he had limited himself to walking close to a wall or piece of furniture, so he could reach out and steady himself if he wanted to.

He hasn't repeated the feat since, but I'm guessing he's going to keep making these little leaps and be walking proficiently before we know it.

Somewhere in there, I read a blog post at Melanie's that mentioned moms having hobbies or something like that; I'm a little fuzzy on the details. The upshot was that I decided I needed to start writing again or I was going to explode in a giant ball of stress.

So I did. So far it's just been posts over at my Sims blog, which seems completely dumb and pointless, but hey, I'm writing! I can set a goal and achieve it (maybe) and not have it undone by a rampaging baby 5 minutes later! (Provided I don't let him pound on my keyboard and accidentally delete everything.) Maybe someday I'll get enough sleep to attempt a novel again.

Tad and I went to Mass at 3 p.m. Christmas Eve. That would not have been my preference, but Scott was sick and I didn't want to attempt Midnight Mass solo with a toddler. Plus, with all the crazy things we'd had going on, I didn't want to put off Mass any longer than absolutely necessary lest something happen to prevent our going later.

We sat in the cry room because by the time we got there it was the only place with seating, but Tad was actually quiet as a church mouse pretty much the entire time. He spent a good 45 minutes just standing there holding my skirt and taking everything in, and then he nursed a bit, and then he chewed up a bulletin, and then he did fuss because I realized he wasn't just crinkling the bulletin in his hands and took it away and fished the soggy bits out of his mouth. But that was during the closing hymn so his fussing was hardly disruptive.

Tad was still fussy when we got home (at about 4:45) so I lay down with him to nurse and woke up around 6:00. Oops. I figured we were sunk at that point anyway so I let him sleep until he woke up naturally at around 6:45.

Sure enough, he stayed up until about 12:15 (waiting for Santa?), but slept in until after 9 a.m. the next morning. So we had present-opening at about 10 a.m. and lazed around the rest of the day.

I convinced Tad to model our new sling by letting him hold his car.
Tad got four presents and that was honestly too many; three would have been better. I had to persuade him pretty hard to get him to open the fourth one. It ended up being worth it, though, since he is now OBSESSED with the toy vehicles my siblings got for him.

His other presents were some books, a set of plates and bowls (I was having a Montessori moment--I need to get him open cups too, but Wal-Mart didn't have those), and an Oball. Wal-Mart just had this one (Tad's is light green); I would have preferred a non-rattling one but Tad has rediscovered the awesomeness of rattles recently so he is enjoying having a ball and rattle all in one. He does throw it like a ball in addition to shaking it, so that's good.

Our Christmas Eve dinner was intended to be Christmas Day breakfast, but I got impatient. So we had sausage cheddar biscuits and assorted Christmas goodies. 

Cookies, fudge, buckeyes.
Then on Christmas Day our dinner was a pot roast accompanied by carrots and potatoes. I threw in a bunch of butter and some beef broth and assorted spices--mostly garlic. It turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.

At some point we are going to have Second Christmas with Scott's family, but everybody has been super sick so we're not sure when. We want to make especially sure everybody's healthy because Mrs. EEB just had another baby. He is ridiculously cute judging from pictures on Facebook, so maybe it's better I'm not going to be exposed to him too soon--right now we can't really afford to find out if tiny babies are contagious. ;)

For more Quick Takes, I have no idea where you should go this week.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

7QT: Many different kinds of moving

So, we moved. (Kind of like how Quick Takes moved!) We were supposed to be out of our old place no later than November 30 and ended up locking up around 1:20 a.m. on December 1. Yes, that was as terrible as it sounds. 

It was so exhausting that the baby who never
sleeps alone ended up passed out on the floor.

We survived, though. I will have to do a video tour or something for those of you who are obsessed with the layout of other people's living spaces. (Or is that just me?)

The post office has succeeded in forwarding mail to our new place, so that's one thing out of the way. We're gradually trying to work on changing our address with everywhere else so we stop needing that forwarded mail. 

One thing that's slowing us down on the whole notifying-people-we-moved front is that 3 weeks after originally contacting the phone company to notify them of our change of address, we still don't have reliable home phone service. I really don't feel like going into that whole saga right now, especially since it probably won't be over for a while yet. (First thing on the to-do list is contacting our landlord to figure out who else offers phone and internet here. Then we're going to switch and pray really hard that it takes the new company less than 3 weeks to get things sorted.)

On the plus side, during the 11 days I didn't have home internet, I managed to get a lot of reading done. I read Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay on Melanie's recommendation. I am not sure what I thought of it. It might be the kind of book that I have to read twice. (The first time to figure out what on earth is going on, and the second time to enjoy.) But I have internet again, for now, so I'm not sure when I'll find the time to reread.

Tad decided to christen the new apartment by taking his first steps here. He took the very first step on December 2, when Scott and I were both looking at him because I was trying to take a picture of something unrelated.

Scott was holding a ball just out of reach...
or so he thought.

Since then he's worked his way up to 4 or 5 steps at a time, or so Scott alleges. I've never seen more than 2. He can also stand unsupported for a couple of minutes at least, if he's distracted by an interesting toy or some trinket he's not supposed to have. As soon as we start commenting on his awesome standing he stops whatever he's doing, looks around, and then sinks slowly onto his bottom.

His other big milestone is molars. The first one (bottom right) poked through on December 7, and then the second one (bottom left) on December 18. 

He was also sick AGAIN this week (I might have to abstain from LLL until spring because we always catch some pestilence a few days after a meeting...) so as you can imagine I am very, very tired.

His 9-month language explosion or whatever that was seems to have ended. The only new word he's added to his vocabulary in the last month is "uh duh" for "all done", which he already knew the sign for, so I'm not sure that even counts as a new word. My mother even heard "uh duh" once when we were visiting them recently, so it's not just our overactive first-time-parent imaginations reading all these words into his random sounds.

(For those of you not playing along at home, he now has five spoken words and four signs, for a total of eight words.)

He has made some pretty impressive cognitive leaps, though. The other day I was reading The Wonder Weeks in the hopes of gaining some insight into the brain of my tiny agent of sleep deprivation. TWW told me that sometime between 55 and 65 weeks, Tad is supposed to discover "the world of programs" wherein he realizes that there is more than one way to solve a problem.

I looked up from the book to notice that my 55-week-old (52 weeks adjusted) had stopped helplessly banging the box he was pushing against the corner and was instead backing it up and turning it in another direction so he could keep walking while pushing it.

I returned the book to the library. I took that episode as a sign that I'm on my own in figuring out this kid. :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary This Ain't The Lyceum!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Viruses, Cake, and Selective Amnesia

My birthday was Monday but we celebrated it on Sunday because seriously, we already don't have enough time in the evenings.

It ended up being a good call because right about when I finished the lasagna, Tad spiked a 101-degree temp. We gave him some ibuprofen and ate cake and then turned in early. He ran that fever for the entire 24 hours of my birthday; it went away sometime between about midnight and 6 a.m. on the 18th.

Birthdays aren't quite the same when you're a mom, are they?

Food pictures!

a. Lasagna from the 1980 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Everybody loved this; even Tad managed to down half a piece once his ibuprofen kicked in.

b. This cake. As you can see, I was lazy and just did two 9-inch layers. It was still a really excellent cake.

c. Oh, and here's Tad's cake. It was yellow cake with a cherry filling (both from BH&G) leftover frosting from my cake, and assorted decorations. I am still miffed that the white frosting came out runny. You'd be amazed at how fiddly basic butter frosting is.

Not a lie
"You want me to do WHAT with the fire?"
Turns out he doesn't like cherries. He yanked it off
and threw it away before consenting to eat the cake.

I got Serenity and some cooking utensils (a wooden rolling pin to replace the metal one I got last year--did you know metal rolling pins eventually get full of rusty old water?--a candy thermometer, some new paring knives, that sort of thing) and also this card from my little sister:

Tad was feeling better by Thursday (his birthday) but hit his overtired cranky wall around 6 p.m., so we skipped cake and presents in favor of more going to bed early.

The next day we had cake for breakfast, present-opening after morning nap, and sherbet for afternoon snack. Then in the evening we Skyped with Tad's godfather. Today we are probably going to install his new carseat. We'll see.

More pictures!

Grandma and Grandpa D got him a convertible. ;)
New PJs, also from Grandma and Grandpa D.
Cards from assorted relatives.
Balls and a book from my siblings.
Wooden blocks from his godfather.

I actually bought the Grandma/Grandpa D. presents myself using a gift card they gave me. I am saving the rest of the gift card for Christmas, partly because our gift budget is kind of nonexistent this year and I want him to have some stuff under the tree (he doesn't know the difference, but it matters to me) and partly because I don't want to bring any more STUFF into this apartment if I'm just going to have to move it all in a week.

Oh, yeah, we are supposed to get the keys to our new place on Monday. Finally. I am not holding out a lot of optimism.

On Tuesday night, Tad was refusing to fall asleep and at about 11 p.m. I told Scott that no matter how little we slept we'd still get more rest than we did last year. He agreed. I added, "And I'll probably be a little more comfortable."

Scott definitely agreed with that one, and then we ended up having a conversation about how I would totally do labor again because now I've basically forgotten that it was actually painful and just remember that I got a baby at the end of it. Scott is deeply skeptical of this amnesia; apparently he still distinctly remembers how painful labor was and he wasn't even experiencing it!

(I mean, if you ask me whether labor is painful I'll tell you that around 7cm you start to suspect that Stephanie Meyer is right and your spine is going to snap in half and you're going to die. But that cerebral knowledge somehow doesn't affect my feelings about doing it again someday.)

On the selective amnesia note, I expected yesterday to be a lot harder emotionally than it was. I mean, Thursday I spent pretty much the whole day in a state of, "Oh, this time last year we were doing this." November 21 last year was a pretty awful day in lots of ways and I didn't really want to relive it.

But then I didn't. I don't even know why. Somehow in the last year the good memories got clearer and the bad ones fuzzier. So when I look back to a year ago today, the thing I remember is this:

All dressed up and ready to go home
And every second seems totally worth it.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Veggie soup + Garlic cheese biscuits

Vegetable Soup

2 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp oil
1 can kidney beans
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 sm can diced tomatoes (~16 oz)
1 lb frozen mixed vegetables
1⁄2 cup dried lentils

Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes in a large pot. (You can skip this step if using dried onion.)

Add all the other ingredients to the onion and garlic.

Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Add more broth if needed.

Garlic Cheese Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1⁄4 cup butter (melted) or oil
1cup water
1cup shredded cheese

2 tbsp melted butter

Combine first 8 ingredients.

Drop on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Brush with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day in the life

Because for some reason I periodically feel the desire to chronicle just how much I *don't* get done.


1:00 a.m. - nurse nurse nurse

3:00 - nurse nurse nurse

4:00 - nurse nurse nurse

5:00 - nurse nurse nurse

5:30 - I reflect on how I know now why I'm so tired all the time. I get annoyed by the fact that when the baby gets tired he pops on and off repeatedly but refuses to just stop nursing and go to sleep.

5:40 - Endless comfort sucking is finally over; I get up to use bathroom and then flop tiredly into bed for about 20 minutes.

6:00 a.m. - Time to get up. Ping Scott.

Get Scott's lunch and both our breakfasts together. Realize that our leftover situation is dire. Again. Realize I'm going to have to go grocery shopping. Again.

6:10 - Ping Scott, sit down to eat breakfast.

6:20 - Really, Scott, get up.

6:30 - Ping Scott again, finish breakfast, throw on some real clothes. Scott finally gets up.

6:40 - I fold a bunch of our cloth wipes. This probably seems like a waste of time, but having all the diaper supplies organized makes changes a lot less harrowing, so. I also hung up assorted diaper parts for drying, since I did a load of diapers last night.

6:50 - I attempt to make heads or tails of the dirty dish situation. Not even washing dishes, just sort of rearranging them so it's possible to wash something. I put a couple of pans in the sink to soak.

7:00 - Internet break! How is the baby still sleeping?

7:10 - And he's awake. Change his diaper and wrestle him into his car seat. Make Scott carry it down to the car. Drop Scott off.

7:55 - Tad and I are home from the bus stop.

8:00 - nurse nurse nurse. While he's nursing I renew library books and check DMV hours.

8:05 - Tad is done nursing so I set him up with some peas and collect receipts out of my purse. I find a bunch of appointment cards while I'm in there so I update the family calendar and rotate out all the old appointment cards on the fridge.

8:12 - Tad has finished his handful of peas; instead of being lazy and giving him more I scramble an egg in the microwave.

8:15 - I remember why I don't give him cooked food--it's hot! I give him a cup of water and handful of raspberries to tide him over. Then I log on to our banking website so I can balance the budget like I meant to 10 minutes ago.

I need to ask Scott what he's been doing with his allowance; there are a bunch of transactions with websites I don't recognize.

A couple of Kroger receipts give me trouble; I finally realize they're pharmacy transactions and the receipts are in the pile o' doom by Scott's place at the table.

8:30 - The baby has eaten all his raspberries and his egg is definitely cool, so I give it to him.

I continue balancing the budget while Tad repeatedly tells me about his cup. (smack smack smack)

8:38 - I have $66.43 left in my grocery budget for the month, which is going to get eaten up fast (ha ha) given that we have two birthday parties ahead of us. Still, it's something. I start working on a grocery list.

8:42 - Tad is fussing. I get him down and put the uneaten half of his egg away for later.

9:00 - Now he's full on crying. I use the bathroom by myself over his loud protests. Then I pop him in the mei tai to wear him for his morning nap. While he is nursing I sneakily eat some leftover Halloween candy.

9:20 - He's asleep! I waste time on the internet during the brief intervals when he allows me to sit down.

10:30 - Tad's awake and not happy about it so I nurse him some more to ease the transition to wakefulness. Then I change a very wet diaper and waste some more time on the internet.

11:00 - Tad falls and bumps his head. I soothe his feelings with a little nursing. Then we eat lunch. (He mostly throws his food around but eats at least one bite of egg and about a tablespoon of *my* oatmeal.)

11:50 - I write down my grocery list and look up what I need to bring to the DMV.

12:00 p.m. - I change a poopy diaper and get the baby dressed in real clothes and so on.

12:20 - We leave for Aldi, where we spend about $30 buying out the dairy section. (Not really, but we got a bag of shredded cheddar, a bag of shredded mozzarella, a bunch of ricotta, a box of butter, and a carton of heavy cream. Plus some bananas and tomato sauce and whatever.)

1:00 - We leave Aldi and head toward the DMV. You might think it would have been better to go to the DMV first and Aldi second, but I figured that at 12:00 a lot of the people with Real Jobs might be trying to run errands on their lunch break. And it was cold enough that my groceries could survive in the trunk for quite a while anyway.

1:30 - We're home again (see, it didn't take long at the DMV at all!)

1:40 - Baby is whiiiining so I nurse him again and he promptly falls asleep. Okay then.

2:20 - I finally stop fooling around on the internet and try to transfer the baby to bed so I can nap too. He nurses off and on but doesn't sleep much. I doze for not nearly long enough.

3:20 - Nursing isn't working to keep Tad half-asleep anymore. I change his diaper, he whines while I sit around tiredly, I serve him some cooked carrots and eat the last slice of leftover pizza. Lots of staring dully at Facebook thinking I should be doing something productive.

4:15 - time to get Scott. It takes a while to get out the door because I have to change a poopy diaper first. This kid loves to poop in dry diapers.

4:45 - We're home. I do some more glassy-eyed staring at the computer while Scott gets changed out of his work clothes and stuff.

5:08 - Start a small flurry of productivity that involves rotating the hang-drying laundry and putting a few more things in the dishwasher and taking out the trash but mostly just rearranging the kitchen so I can cook.

5:35 - Husband and baby are both sounding a little frazzled, so I grab him and nurse him. (The baby, not the husband.)

?? - I go back to frantically doing stuff

6:10 p.m. - Scott has a chiropractor appointment, so we all pile in the car. The baby falls asleep on the way so I sit in the parking lot and read. He wakes up again as we're leaving.

7:20 - Home again. I put some muffins in the oven. (I made the batter before we left for chiro.) Tad bumps his head *again* at one point and therefore requires nursing.

7:45 - Muffins are done. I break one open and put it in the fridge for Tad. He cries and paws at me because I won't share my nice hot muffins with him.

7:50 - Tad is in his chair with a muffin. He is happy.

8:15 - I start NaNoing and Tad starts dropping things over the side of his high chair. I get him down shortly thereafter and he crawls around amusing himself while I type rapidly. (I get about 1500 words in 45 minutes, so not too shabby, but not quite my quota either.)

9:03 - The baby is starting to smell again and I realize I haven't changed him in a while (the chiro and dinner craziness threw me off). I change a slightly poopy diaper and then eat a pork chop because they are finally ready. (I threw them in the crockpot on high before we left for the chiropractor.)

9:40 - I put Tad in the mei tai again in an attempt to get him to sleep. He nurses for a while but remains wide awake thanks to his 45-minute car nap.

10:00 - Scott and I do the de Montfort Consecration prayers while Tad climbs all over us. Then I brush my teeth and otherwise get ready for bed.

10:45 Wear-to-sleep attempt #2.

11:05 - He's asleep. THANK YOU JESUS. We transfer to bed and he nurses some more before finally falling into deep sleep and staying that way until 4:30 the next morning. THANK YOU AGAIN JESUS.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I've had these hanging out in my browser waiting for me to write deep and thoughtful posts for a while and then I realized that's not going to happen. So, here:

1. Golden Seams: The Japanese Art of Mending Ceramics

This has been hanging out so long that I don't remember where I got it. It's interesting in its own right, but I couldn't help but think of it as a metaphor for suffering--we break, and God puts us back together, but the putting-back-together leaves its mark, and yet makes us more beautiful than we were to begin with.

I want that, or at least want to want it--to have my suffering make me into something that looks like it belongs to God.

Also, there are some people who think that God smashes us on purpose, so that he can put us back together like this (just as there were some people who destroyed pottery on purpose so that it could be repaired with gold), but I don't believe in that kind of God.

2. A Mother's Repentance

I don't have much to say about this article except that every word of it is true. For me the inciting event wasn't miscarriage, as with the author of the piece, but for a long, long time after the whole poor feeding/slow weight gain/postpartum depression mess that was the first 6 weeks of Tad's life, I felt as though I had to do everything perfectly--as if I was taking the most important class of my life and had flunked the midterm so there was no way to pass except by getting 100% on the final.

I'm getting a little better, in increments, with occasional setbacks. Because he is mine, in a million very important ways, but in a million other important ways he isn't and never will be. I made him inside of me and yet he has so many things in him that are not me, his own very big personality (trapped in a little, mostly nonverbal body for the time being) and a destiny that only he can discern. It's not my job to make his life perfect or to keep him always safe, and I couldn't even if I wanted to.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Language update

Because I might not get around to doing a whole Quick Takes post anytime soon.

New sign of the day: "Cup." This one was hard to get; what he did was smack the back of his right hand with his left until his stupid mom finally figured it out and gave him a cup of water. And then of course he didn't drink it, just played with it. He's not really into drinking water at the moment; I think he knows that if he waits until he's done eating he'll get breastmilk.

He also lifts his arms into the air (like the "Touchdown!" gesture) when something exciting happens. He'll do this repeatedly until you say "Yay!" and then he stops, satisfied. I don't know if that counts as a sign or if it's more of a gesture, like waving or clapping.

His complete vocabulary, in order (signs are in quotation marks, actual spoken words are not):

"All done"

According to "What to Expect: The Second Year" this kind of vocabulary would be average for a baby of about 16 months. Tad won't even be 12 months until next week.

Like any self-respecting first-time mom, I am thoroughly convinced that my child is a genius.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Seven Quick Halloween Takes with lots of pictures

Tad turned 11 months old last Monday. He "celebrated" for a week by staying up fussing and crying and fighting sleep until 11 p.m. almost every night. Then we had a good 3-4 days where he went to bed easy at night, fought his naps less than usual, and was generally cheerful during the day. I hoped that we would get a little break until his next Wonder Week (due to arrive shortly after his birthday next month.)

No such luck. The last three nights have been terrible--up until 12 a.m., up until 11 p.m., asleep at 8 but awake and screaming nonstop from 11:30 to 12:30...We're really tired of this one month on, 3 days off pattern he's had going, let me tell you.

Funny story, though, about the Sleepless Wonder: About two weeks ago, we were driving to look at an apartment and he was tired so he was sitting in his carseat moaning loudly in an attempt to keep himself awake. (He does this a lot.) Scott said, "You sound kind of like your mother did right before she gave birth to you."

The hilarious thing is, he totally does sound just like that.

Recently I've noticed that he can stand independently (i.e. not even holding on with one hand) for a few wobbly seconds at a time. When he's done he doesn't even fall over--he either grabs on to the nearest baby-shoulder-height object, or he lowers himself carefully into a squat and then carries on crawling around getting into mischief.

You can tell he really wants to walk--he'll be standing there, nonchalantly leaning one hand on the dishwasher, and I'll try to coax him to take a step or two towards me. He'll think about it, swaying back and forth like a cat getting ready to pounce, and then drop onto all fours and crawl towards me instead, grinning happily at his clever solution to the problem of not being able to walk.

He did this "revving the engine" thing for a while before he learned how to properly crawl on all fours (you may recall that he flopped along on his belly for a while before that), so I suspect walking is just around the corner.

Tad's fine motor skills are developing apace--He can stack two blocks (apparently quite the feat for an 11-month-old, according to the What To Expect books I've read) and accurately put rings on his ring-stacker; the nuances of the shape-sorter still elude him despite valiant efforts.

We're beginning to suspect he might be naturally left-handed. He uses his right hand for plenty of things, but when he needs to do anything particularly tricky--pick up a frozen pea, attempt to fit a block into a shape-sorter hole, etc.--he uses his left. I guess we'll see what happens in a few years.

(Scott and I are both right-handed, but one of Scott's brothers is left-handed and my grandfather was naturally left-handed [though functionally ambidextrous, because that's what happens when you learn to write in the early '40s.], so Tad's genetic odds are perhaps slightly higher than the average offspring of two righties.)

Word of the week:

More: He produced a reasonable approximation of the sign for "more" last week. I've been pushing this one because for the past week or two he's been using "all done" to mean both "I'm ready to get down" and "My food is gone and I would like more." It's a little confusing.

The normal sign for more involves making your hands into beak shapes and sort of tapping them together. (Or at least that's how I do it. I freely admit I could be doing it wrong.) Tad does it by making one hand into a beak and tapping the back of his other hand. It almost looks like he's tapping his watch in the universal gesture of impatience, except of course he doesn't wear a watch.

I've been working on getting him to say "Daddy." He obviously knows who I'm talking about (if I say "Where's Daddy?" he turns and looks at Scott), but so far has absolutely no interest in talking about him.

Last night we went Trick-or-Treating with Elder Elder Brother and his son. (The girl-child had been around a few streets before we got there and then decided it was too cold.) Tad dressed up as a panda bear and ate half a Kit-Kat. After his midnight scream-fest he's not getting any more Kit-Kats for a while, just in case.

On his grandparents' doorstep

He really enjoyed the Kit-Kat.

My most recent culinary accomplishment: Chicken alfredo pizza with spinach on a garlic-butter crust. I made the crust the usual way, except of course with a good sprinkle of garlic powder, and then I coated it in softened butter before putting it in the oven for the first bake.

Scott loved this, even though he normally looks askance at spinach, and Tad ate a pretty sizeable slice himself. (Probably about 1/16 of the total pizza.)

The whole apartment hunting/moving process proceeds slowly but surely; I should have a more interesting update for you all next week. Or the week after that, or whenever I get around to blogging again.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sausage gravy and biscuits

Sausage gravy

1 lb sausage
1/4 - 1/2 cup flour
2 - 4 cups milk
salt and pepper

Brown sausage. Do not drain.
Add flour and stir until it combines with the sausage fat to form a thick paste.
Add milk gradually, stirring to remove flour lumps. (There will still be sausage lumps, obviously.)
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot over biscuits.

Really Lazy Biscuits

based on "Really Big Biscuits" from this cookbook

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup melted butter
2 cups milk or plain yogurt*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients.
Add wet ingredients and stir until well incorporated.
Drop in rough lumps onto greased or nonstick cookie sheet.
Bake 13-15 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.

*I used yogurt once when I accidentally ran out of milk and turns out it adds amazing richness and flavor. I might do that every time from now on.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Apartment hunting, funny kid stuff, and giveaways

Scott had a day off on Monday. The first thing he did was sleep in; the second thing he did was wake up to find me getting all weepy because I can't handle my life on a normal week and apartment hunting was pushing me over the edge.

He told me to go take a nap and he would call apartments. I ended up eating lunch and doing some dishes first, and then the baby and I both took a nap from about 2-4. And Scott did call apartments.

He wins the Husband of the Week award for sure.

Apartment hunting has actually made some progress. We saw one place yesterday evening and are seeing another tomorrow afternoon. (These two are out of about 8 places we contacted this week; the rest were dead ends.) I'd like to look at a few more places if possible, but two is a lot better than zero!

Last night's apartment got put on the "definitely maybe" list. It's near the top of our price range, but it's a decent place and has an itty-bitty playground and is within walking distance of the bus line that takes Scott to work. (Which could affect our pricing calculations--if he actually walks to the bus stop that would save us a fair bit of gas money.)

It didn't wow me, though. The floor plan we're looking at has a really large living/dining area (which Scott really liked), but the kitchen is tiny (I wouldn't have thought it possible to have a kitchen smaller than the one we have now) and the bedrooms are pretty tiny as well. Plus the playground I mentioned above is RIGHTUPNEXTTO this little fenced dog-run area. I can just see trying to take Tad to the playground and having to spend the entire time keeping him from sticking his arms through the fence.

Language development update!

- The sign for "milk" has reappeared. It was super adorable the one time I was getting ready to nurse him and he realized what I was doing and smiled beatifically and made the sign for "milk" before latching on and nursing away happily.

Then again, he did pretty much the same thing when I gave him a spoonful of chili, so he might be a little confused on what "milk" means.

- New word: Uh-oh. I started saying this whenever he drops his food off his high chair and after a few days he started echoing: "Ut!" Then earlier this evening he knocked a book off the end table and said it spontaneously, and Scott understood him.

These are Buzz Lightyear jammies he inherited from his uncle.
He reached a somewhat more terrifying milestone yesterday: He can grab things that are hanging off the edge of the kitchen counter. I guess this will motivate me to keep up with the dishes so there are fewer sharp knives and breakables within reach.

Somewhat related story: This morning Tad woke up cranky and I still had to get breakfast together, so I tried standing him up on a chair (backwards, so he could hold onto the back). I had this idyllic vision of him watching me curiously while I chatted and cooked, all domestic-like.

Instead he tried to climb onto the counter, using the arm of the chair as a step. He was very miffed when I moved his chair further back so he couldn't reach.

--- 5 ---

Random things I want to remember:

-When I pull a hair out of his mouth (he tries to eat stray pieces of hair a lot) and he makes this adorable little scrunchy face over the way it feels.

- When he's sitting on the floor (legs straight out in front of him) and something interesting happens behind him and he scoots himself around in a circle using his feet in order to see what's up.

Now for some stories of my younger siblings, because they don't get enough blog time anymore.

My dad posts on Facebook:

Teresa colored a picture of me last night where I had green hair.
Me: "Why's my hair green?"
Teresa: "Because I couldn't find a gray crayon."

My mom comments:

Well at least she gave you hair.

He might need some aloe vera for that burn.

Later, my mom posts this:

I got our duffles down since Andrea wanted to start packing. TJ wanted to pack too. While I was helping her Matthew was fussing about packing too. I told him later and so he started to get stuff out of his drawers. Well he put one swim diaper his trunks and swim shirt in the duffle and declared himself done.

That's all an almost-three-year-old boy needs for vacation, apparently. (Notice how I refrain from telling you where they're going or how long they'll be gone or anything. Don't steal their stuff, internet stalkers.)

Now, if you don't mind, I would like to point you in the direction of House Unseen Found on Zillow's latest giveaway. Because if I blog about it, I might win stuff. And if you go over and enter yourself, you might win stuff. And if we don't win, at least we found out about non-toxic cleaning products for our children who like to lick the floors.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pizza dough

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup very warm water (my mother taught me to use water as hot at it comes out of the tap, so about 120 degrees)

Combine and let sit covered in a reasonably warm place (so, not the fridge) for at least 1 hour.

Add approximately 2 cups of additional flour, kneading gently until just mixed. (Unfortunately, how much flour to add is something I could only teach you by feel. You want it to be soft and pliable but not sticky.)

Grease pizza pan with olive oil. Make sure you get oil on both hands.

Use your oily hands to spread the pizza dough over the pan. (It works especially well if you rub it around for a bit and then flip it over so both sides get oily.)

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.


Bake at 400 for 12-14 minutes or until cheese is golden-brown near the edges.

Garlic-butter crust:

Make as above, except substitute 2 tablespoons melted butter for olive oil and add 1 teaspoon garlic powder.

When the dough is ready for its first bake, add a thin coat of softened butter. (I still use olive oil to grease the pan.)

Topping variations:

Cheese: Use tomato sauce and spices of choice (I use the same combo as I do for spaghetti sauce), mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Alfredo: Use a half batch of your favorite alfredo sauce, mozzarella cheese, and diced chicken.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: High needs and food

And here I am throwing out quick takes on Friday evening again. It's been a rough week here. I am not quite sure what's up; Tad has been chewing on his hands like there's no tomorrow so I'm inclined to say teeth but I'm not emotionally ready for molars yet. (I suppose he could be getting his canines out of order. Would that be better or worse than molars?) I also had somebody point out that there's a "Wonder Week" from 42-46 weeks old. Tad was 46 weeks on Wednesday (according to my Bump emails), but since he was early technically he's 43 weeks for WW purposes. That would make sense with his mood and sleep worsening last week. I am going with that theory because it means I can pretend this will be over in another 2.5 weeks or so.

Yesterday (Thursday) morning was the worst, with Tad waking up screaming at 4 a.m., going back down at 7, and then waking up *again* at 8. I had been planning on going to our monthly LLL meeting, but was feeling so depressed I almost skipped it out of sheer inertia. At 9:50 I decided we might as well be miserable somewhere else, so I changed Tad's diaper, stuck him in a sleeper (he had been undressed so he could eat an apple for breakfast), and schlepped down to the car. I arrived at the meeting at 10:05 (yes, it's really close) and literally walked into the middle of a conversation about how stressful and isolating it can be to have a high-needs baby. I'm definitely glad I didn't skip after all.

(One of the leaders said that LLL meetings probably have a higher than usual ratio of high-needs babies because their mothers are the ones who come to meetings desperate for help because their baby doesn't do what the books say he's supposed to.)

I was going to post a video of Tad pushing a box around the apartment, but I can't figure out how to make it not sideways, so I will talk about his language development instead.

Milk: The sign for this hasn't really resurfaced, but he has a "muh muh muh muh" sound that seems to be associated with "I want you to pick me up and nurse me."

All done: As I was writing this post, the baby was eating pizza. Once all his pizza was done, he said something like "gih dih" and raised his hand, palm up. (I wonder if the g sound is a conflation with "Do you want to get down?", which is something we usually ask when he's stuck on the furniture, not in his high chair. But he's a smart baby.) This is an evolution of his previous version of the "all done" sign, which involved smacking himself in the head. (And the associated sound is new.)

Mama: When I walk out of the room or otherwise am unreachable, he says "MA MA MA MA" insistently until I come over and pick him up. (This sound is distinct from the "muh muh" of milk, above.)

No: Another of his favorite babble strings is "nih nih nih nih", which seems to be associated with doing something he doesn't want us to do, like changing his diaper or strapping him into the carseat.

"Mama" is the only one that Scott has verified as being used in a decidedly word-like way. So odds are I'm making at least 75% of this up. But what's the point of being a neurotic first-time mom if I can't do that?

Tad is basically in love with Elsa at this point. I'd feel bad, but the 10 minutes he spent watching "Let It Go" on repeat on YouTube (while holding onto a chair and "dancing") turned out to be the only time I had today to stuff some diapers for him. I think he'd rather have a slightly rotten brain than have to sit in the same diaper for hours.

Plus, I don't think he really understands how screen time works. He gets just as excited about sitting on the kitchen floor staring at the microwave whenever I heat stuff up in there. Weird baby.

I've been working on a birthday/Christmas wish list for Tad on Amazon for probably four months (I like to plan ahead!) and realized the other day that it has 17 items on it. I was worried we'd look greedy, but then I sorted by price and noted that of those 17 items, 3 are under $5 (board books ftw), 6 more are between $5 and $10, and another 6 are between $10 and $20.

The only really expensive things are this block set and an Ergo. And the Ergo is just on there for my own reference. I should probably take it down before I give the list to anyone but my mother.

Food continues to be by far the best way to keep him entertained for any length of time. On Tuesday he spent literally a full hour eating an apple. (Well, mainly chewing off the skin and spitting it out, but it took far less than an hour to pick apple shavings up off the floor afterwards, so that was a net gain.)

Since I started him on three meals a day (did I mention that?) I've been trying to figure out a way to incorporate more vegetables. He ate frozen peas for lunch almost every day one week because I couldn't think of anything better. So this week I increased my crunchy mom cred by buying an avacado. I hope it keeps for a while, because nobody else likes avacado and he can't eat that much in one sitting.

I can't remember where, but I recently read a suggestion to use ground oatmeal as a substitute for bread crumbs. I tried this with some parmesan-breaded pork chops yesterday and it actually worked really well. I did not tell Scott about it, so we'll have to ask him if he noticed any difference from regular bread crumbs.

I've been sticking with my exercise New Month's Resolution so far. I did slack off on the water drinking for a few days (apparently that habit didn't get cemented enough in a month), but I pretty much immediately noticed the effects and got back in the saddle.

Even though none of my resolutions thus far have been food-related, I've been thinking about food more since I started. It occurred to me that I should eat more protein and vegetables (I eat about the right amount of dairy and fruit, and waaaaaay too many carbs). Then it occurred to me that the reason I don't eat more protein and vegetables is that they're much harder to prepare than the other food groups. I mean, if the time it takes to play through "Let It Go" is the only time I have to get myself a snack, I'm getting a bowl of ice cream, not peeling a few carrots or cooking up an omelette.

Maybe my resolution for next month should be to get rich and hire a personal chef.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Seven Quick Takes that get kind of sentimental at the end

I keep thinking of posts to write and not writing them. I have a housekeeping post (as in actual housekeeping, not blogging-about-blogging housekeeping) that is a little too involved for a Quick Take, I have at least two posts about PPD and related matters, I have a recipe or two I want to put up...but at the same time all this thinking has me too inwardly focused to write.

I have been keeping up with my September resolution to drink more water. I still don't feel like it's habitual. I had a good groove going for a while when I was pregnant and I'd basically get a snack/small meal and refill my water cup every 2-3 hours. Now I have a small needy person hanging off me all the time, so that kind of intense focus on my own bodily needs is not really possible.

My new month's resolution for October is to do at least 5 minutes of stretching-type exercises every day. 10 months postpartum, I still have no core strength at all and it's having a major negative impact on my ability to live my life and I'm sick of it.

The goal is only 5 minutes for two reasons: 1) I am that out of shape. 2) I get bored easily--thanks to #1, there are only a tiny handful of exercises I can do without hurting myself, and you really can't just keep cycling through those for 10 or 15 or more minutes.

Tad's interest in food is continuing to increase. I usually give him a normal child-sized portion (so, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of an adult-sized portion) simply because he makes such a mess I figure only about 10% makes it into his mouth, so he needs a fairly big portion.

Lately, though, I've been having to clean a lot less off his tray and his seat and the floor. He ate pretty much all of a hamburger patty last week, and just today ate probably a cup of macaroni and cheese.

I haven't been obsessively tracking his eating habits for a few weeks now, but I might start up again--not to watch for allergic reactions, but just to make sure he's getting enough vegetables and things now that he's getting a substantial amount of calories from his solids instead of just using them as a garnish for breastmilk.

His eighth tooth is definitely fully out now, yet somehow he's still chomping on his hands and drooling all over the place. There should really be a break in between the incisors and the molars. I need to contact some kind of Mom Union representative about this.

When we move to our new place and get all settled and hopefully totally toddler-proof the bedroom, I am probably going to crack down on his sleep habits. He's still not going to cry-it-out or anything, but he desperately needs better sleep and the grownups do too. So, we're checking out all the No-Cry Sleep Solution books ever written and he's going to have regular naptimes and all of that. For at least a week until I give up and let him do whatever he wants again.

Speaking of apartments, we have called a few places this week, but for various reasons have not yet actually scheduled any tours. Next week I will be running down the rest of my list--as much as my socially anxious brain can handle, anyway--and hopefully we'll at least get some good leads, because hey, we're supposed to move NEXT MONTH. Eek.

(When we got this apartment, we toured it one weekend and signed the lease the next and got married the weekend after that. It was a crazy month.)

He still can't quite walk, but he's been making strides (ha ha) in the talking department. I swear he's said "Mama" twice, though Scott is not convinced, and his babbling is getting more sophisticated. Instead of just repeating the same syllable over and over, he does these long strings of different consonants and vowels--and his inflection is down pat. It sounds exactly as if he's holding a conversation, just without any intelligible words.

As much as the sleep deprivation and the continual crying and everything else get to me--there are so many moments where he is just so precious it makes my heart hurt and I remember why I wanted to do this. I sat down and played with the shape sorter with him the other day and it just blew his little mind that I could get the blocks into the holes--so he sat and worked at it for a couple of days until he figured out how to get one in. (At which point I applauded and made much of him.) I put on YouTube videos for him and he dances, swaying back and forth with a big grin on his face. I sing for him and he dances even more enthusiastically and grins even more widely. Because the way he delights me on my best days--that's how he feels about me every day of his life.

It makes me want to be better just so someday I can be half as awesome as he thinks I am.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, September 29, 2014


The other day, Scott and I were talking about baby toys and how I don't like those annoying "educational" toys that basically just light up and make noises at you.

I outlined a few criteria for toys that I *do* like:

1. Open-ended. This includes blocks, dolls, that sort of thing. There isn't just one thing you can build with a set of blocks; there isn't just one narrative you can act out with a houseful of dolls.

2. Requires active play rather than passive consumption. So, a ball is better than a video, because with the ball you actually have to interact with it in order for it to do anything, whereas the video just goes on regardless of whether you're engaged or sitting there glassy-eyed staring into the middle distance.

Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, as there always are. :) For example, a book on tape is not really open-ended (unless it's a choose-your-own-adventure book on tape, I guess), nor does it require active participation. Does this mean I'll never let my kids listen to books on tape? Of course not! I plan to actively encourage it, in fact.

(For that matter, I don't think videos are inherently bad either--they just seem like they should be the dessert rather than the meat.)

I don't really have a point with this post...I'm just getting down these thoughts as they come to me so maybe one of these days they'll all mesh together into some kind of coherent educational philosophy.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Spinach burgers

Another of my husband's childhood favorites, modified slightly to suit my whims. These were so good that the 10-month-old ate a whole patty!

1 egg
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp minced dried onion (or 1 fresh onion)
2 lb ground beef
Spinach to taste (I used 5-6 ounces, or a little more than half of a package; the original recipe calls for a whole package)

Beat together egg, W. sauce, and onion.

Add beef and stir up a little.

Cook spinach in microwave for a few minutes until it gets wilty.

Stir spinach into beef mixture. This should give you enough moisture to make the beef stick together.

Form into patties and cook however you normally cook burgers. I sauteed mine in a skillet with a little butter. Makes about 16 patties, which is maybe 4 servings if you're hungry. ;)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Baby dreams

Some random memories

When we were in the hospital after Tad was born, he got examined periodically by nurses and pediatricians and so on, as you'd expect. He hated this and every time he'd scream until his whole body turned beet red. (His skin was practically transparent back in those days.)

Scott, being a tenderhearted sort of person, would always hover over the baby during these torture sessions, holding his hands and speaking soothingly and so on. (I was usually sitting in bed on the other side of the room.)

The nurse we had on our first night apparently found this annoying or something, because at one point she said, "You have to let him cry sometimes, you know" in an exasperated tone, and elaborated later that it was good for his lungs. We ignored her. Seriously, on what planet do 12-hour-old babies need to be left to cry?

(I am not saying that you can't ever use the bathroom or whatever if it means your newborn will cry, but there's no need to feel like you're damaging him by comforting him if that's what you prefer. Incidentally, people are always saying that AP proponents make new parents feel guilty, but all the guilt trips I've ever gotten have been from people trying to tell me that I'm being a martyr and I should put him down, let him cry, give him a bottle of formula, whatever.)


In the following weeks, Tad slept a lot and Scott and I did not. (This was before we discovered cosleeping.) Every now and then, Tad would stir and whimper in his sleep as if he was having a nightmare, and we'd try to figure out what a tiny baby could possibly be having nightmares about. Eventually we decided he was dreaming about nurses with cold hands, and that became a running joke we pull out anytime anybody is sleeping restlessly--"Must be dreaming of nurses with cold hands."


I quickly discovered that I could get Tad to settle down and sleep more deeply if I stroked him and whispered soothing things. I really liked the idea that I had the power to affect his dreams like that--I imagined that he was dreaming of scary things and then all of the sudden dreamed that his mama came and saved him from all the cold-handed nurses or whatever.

Because mamas are basically superheroes.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Seven Quick Takes 9/26

Today is my dad's 52nd birthday. This morning he posted a belated Throwback Thursday picture of his dad, who was killed in a car crash about a month shy of his own 52nd birthday. It's weird to think about--at the time, my dad was 25 and my older sister was about 6 months, so really he was at about the same phase of life as I am now (almost 25 and with a 10-month-old).

Matthew still likes a cup of milk before he goes to bed. The other day, instead of trotting off to sleep, he insisted on having more cups of milk until finally Mom cut him off. Apparently he then started yelling for me, claiming that I would give him his milk. It seems that the fact that I nurse Tad on demand has made quite the impression. (No, I am not sure if Matthew thought I would bring him regular milk or breastfeed him.)

Tonight's "It's the end of the month so we're going to throw random stuff together and call it dinner" experiment:

-Melt 1 stick butter in a skillet
-Add 1 lb tilapia; cook until white and flaky
-Add 1 lb frozen mixed vegetables; cook until thawed
-Add 1.5 cups brown rice, cooked (yes, I snuck that one up on you...)
-Add a squirt of lemon juice

I liked it and the baby seems to be enjoying his portion. Scott hasn't eaten yet because apparently he's Reading All The Things on Stack Overflow. (I don't know what Stack Overflow is, or I would link there.)

Last week I had a follow-up with my Creighton instructor. (No, she still hasn't figured out what my cycles think they're doing--I'm "back in cycles" now, btw. I'm sure you all really wanted to know that.) While talking about health insurance we got onto the topic of tongue and lip ties (since we paid for Tad's revisions OOP). Then later I was talking about how I never had milk supply issues in spite of my PCOS, which led to a discussion of how he was so sleepy the first few weeks it made it hard for him to nurse, and she chimed in with, "Plus I bet it was hard for him with his lip."

It's weird that a random RN whose training is in NFP can grok that, but most pediatricians and even quite a few LCs can't.

Tad's 8th tooth is basically through. I will have to have Scott look at it to confirm. I really hope that this means that some good sleep is around the corner for all of us, because we're all exhausted, especially Tad. I don't mind holding him for every nap and cosleeping and all that (well, not much--it would be nice if I could get stuff done during his naps), but I'd mind even less if it actually led to a well-rested baby instead of one who's just barely staving off exhausted breakdowns.

I am pretty sure he said "Mama" at one point earlier this week. It is hard to tell, though, because he babbles so much and "Ma ma ma ma ma" is one of his favorite syllable strings. In this instance, though, I set him down and walked out of the room and he yelled "MA MA MA MA" very emphatically until I came back and picked him up, at which point he stopped babbling and was happy.

A few weeks ago I discovered by sheer luck that Tad likes looking at books during church. He's made it three weeks in a row now without having to be taken to the back!

I figured Sandra Boynton, for all her virtues, is not very catechetical, so I asked for book recommendations on Facebook and my mom ended up volunteering to ship us all their religious board books that didn't get chewed up. She also sent a big wooden rosary. Tad liked the rosary best, but he might be too young for it still--he tries to eat the beads, and I'm not sure they're big enough to not be choking hazards.

I let him play with them for a few minutes and then put them in a bag for church. We'll see if the magic of book-reading lasts another Sunday.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!