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!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cranberry nut cookies

Modified slightly from my mom's oatmeal cookie recipe, because I wanted to introduce Tad to tree nuts.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup nut butter (cashew, almond, etc. I don't think peanut would really work.)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3 cups oatmeal
2 cups flour
1 cup dried cranberries

Cream together sugars and butters.

Add ingredients through eggs and mix well.

Stir in oatmeal, flour, and cranberries.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. (Lightly grease pan unless using nonstick.)

These are awesome fresh; once they've been refrigerated I recommend popping them in the microwave a few seconds to soften them back up.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Photo dump edition

He got a prize for "helping" unload the dishwasher.
Peaches = sour. And he loves them anyway.
Proud of himself for getting blackberries all over his shirt.
Even more proud of himself for getting yogurt in his hair.
We've since stopped using the back of the couch
to store stuff we don't want him to mess with.
Sleeping with Daddy after a long day of being awesome.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Creamy chicken potato soup

Based heavily on this recipe.

1.5 - 2 lbs chicken
1 - 2 lbs potatoes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
4 cups chicken broth
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
2 tbsp dried onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp basil
salt and pepper
1 cup spinach
Parmesan cheese

1. Cook chicken and boil potatoes (not together). Set aside.

2. Put butter and olive oil in a large stockpot and heat until butter is melted. Add flour and stir until well combined. Gradually add half-and-half and stir until no lumps remain.

3. Peel and dice carrots; dice celery. Add broth, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper to pot. Cook on medium, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender.

4. Add cooked chicken, potatoes, and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.

5. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Month's resolution update

Drinking 100 ounces of water a day is not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Most days I've been drinking closer to 120 ounces, since my big water bottle holds 32 and therefore I have to fill it up four times. Someday I should get one of those Camelbak things. (I really wanted one of those when Tad was a newborn and I would be terribly thirsty but unable to move my arms due to the fact that he only slept if I nursed him down and then didn't move a muscle.)

There were a few days where I used the bathroom a LOT, but apparently that was just my body re-regulating its electrolytes or something because now I don't think I go to the bathroom an unusual amount. As expected, I have been less headachy and crabby. Surprisingly, I have also been craving sweets A LOT less. I don't know how that mechanism works, but I'll take it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Baby bullets

- He has seven teeth. Only the upper right lateral incisor is missing now.

- He loves food. I am probably going to move him up to three "meals" a day soon.

Foods that he has particularly liked:

--Sour fruits. Up to and including lemons, but also including more normal things. All forms of pit fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines) have been big hits.

--Dry cereal. Cheerios have some kind of magical hold over babies, to which Tad is not immune, but when I ran out of Cheerios he decided that Rice Krispies were an acceptable substitute. I justify the added sugar and artificial vitamins on the grounds that he's practicing his pincer grip.

--Bread crusts. I think he likes these because they don't fall apart in his hand but are easy to gum to death once he bites off a piece. He's never had storebought bread, but he's had a few different kinds of homemade, including cornbread.

--Meat. If you give him a mixed dish (like chicken noodle soup), he almost always goes for the meat first. I am happy that he is in less danger of becoming anemic but sad that his diapers smell really bad now.

--Fish. Perhaps he just seems to like this in contrast to his father, who is and probably always will be very tepid about fish. Tad has had canned tuna and salmon in small quantities (small because he doesn't need that much salt), and last night he went to town on some shrimp alfredo.

- I think my attempts to push "all done" are starting to bear fruit. About 1/3 of the time when he finishes a nursing session, instead of pinching me as hard as he can so I put him down, he smacks himself on the head. I say, "All done?" and sign at him and then plop him on the floor and everybody's happy.

(I haven't seen "milk" again since that first week or two, but I'm sure it's in there somewhere.)

- He babbles constantly. You can tell that he's practicing different sounds until he masters them and then moving on to the next. His sound of the week is a popping noise that's halfway between beatboxing and arm farts (but with his mouth). I have no idea how this is going to come in handy for actual talking, but apparently he thinks it's important. I just think it's hilarious.

- He knows how to climb up stairs. We're working hard on teaching him to get back down.

- He learned how to climb onto the couch yesterday. Pro: People will actually be able to sit there now that I'm no longer tempted to pile stuff on the back. Con: I have nowhere to put my stuff! We really need to move.

- He really wants to be a grownup. He absolutely hates being in his exersaucer or in his playpen or behind a baby gate. If you open the fridge, he wants to climb in. If you are unloading the dishwasher, he pulls stuff out too. If you're in the bathroom, he tries to dig through the trash. If you're sitting at the computer, he reaches behind himself while nursing and pounds the keyboard. (No, really. He has skills.) It's so incredibly frustrating to him that he can't do everything we can do (like walking or getting down once we've climbed up things or being able to open cabinets that have rubber bands over the handles). And of course that's probably not going to change anytime soon, considering he's not even officially a toddler yet.

Monday, September 1, 2014

New month's resolution: September

Credit: I originally got the idea of new month's resolutions from Michelle Reitemeyer, back when her blog had a different name.

I have decided that I am tired of trying to reform my entire life every Lent (and then slipping right back into bad habits by the time the Easter octave is over) and also tired of being overweight* and out of shape. You'd think having a 19-lb baby who's obsessed with nursing and being carried everywhere would take care of those problems, but so far it has not. Therefore, I am going to try to implement one small change every month and then actually stick to them in subsequent months. We will see how it goes.

The resolution for September: Drink at least 100 ounces of water every day. This might need to be adjusted if I find it way too much, but this will be a rough goal. I arrived at this figure by dividing my weight in half and then rounding a little--rounding UP, mind you. Plus a quick Google search suggests that breastfeeding women should be drinking about this much in water or other fluids. (About the only other thing I drink is milk, though I do put away rather a lot of that.)

So far today I've drunk about 60 ounces, so not a bad start. I will report back in a week or two or whenever to let you all know how it goes.

(*When I say "overweight" I mean over the weight at which I generally feel decent and healthy. I will probably always be overweight according to the BMI table, and I'm okay with that.)