Friday, August 29, 2014

Seven Quick Labor Day Takes

Yesterday was a surprisingly good day for me on the intellectual front. I wrote a blog post and edited two chapters in my neverending novel. (I've been working on it 7 1/2 years now; I should probably accept that it will never be "done.")

I also finally read Something Other Than God. I started it on Tuesday and didn't make much headway but then I picked it up again and powered through and enjoyed it immensely.

I feel like I should have a more thorough review than that, but I used up all my brain cells reading it, so no.

Relatedly, I always thought people were being a bit overdramatic when they talked about postpartum NFP being so hard. (Sorry, Jen!)

Then I had a baby, and PPD, and basically ignored my husband for three or four months because hey, turns out this stuff is hard and makes no sense. (Though it didn't help that I wasn't actually cleared to resume "normal activities"/able to start really charting until 10 weeks pp.)

So I thought, "Oh, I'm just not doing it right, I'll get an instructor." So I called up the lady I'd called back in March of 2013 (we cancelled our original appointment because I found out I was pregnant a few days beforehand) and we took our first ever NFP class and the chart still didn't make any sense so I dutifully went to a follow-up and guess what? My instructor doesn't know what's going on either! (And yes, I did rule out being pregnant again. I was a little scared that making appointments with NFP instructors is what actually gets me pregnant, but apparently that wasn't it.)

So, yeah. Sorry, guys. I judged you and now I am learning my lesson.

I remember why I had such a "productive" day yesterday, with the writing and reading and stuff: The baby has a cold and wants to spend all day passed out on my chest (he's in the mei tai as I type this), and rattling around in the kitchen disturbs him so he wakes up and that's no good. So my dishes are ALLLL dirty but I have a relatively happy baby and I read a book so maybe it's a wash.

Tooth #6 finally broke free on Monday. The rejoicing was pretty short-lived, though, since Tooth #7 is already trying to push through in the opposite corner. (#6 was the bottom right incisor, giving him 2 on top and 4 on bottom; #7 is the top left.)

Tad has been enjoying solid food immensely. He usually has "brunch" around 10 or whenever I need to get something done without him hanging off me, and then he has dinner whenever the grownups do. Brunch can be oatmeal (cooked thick so he can feed himself), fruit (cut into "boats", i.e. half fruits with the cores scooped out) or whatever else comes to hand. Dinner is whatever the grownups are eating. Seriously, he's had potato soup, mac and cheese, chili, and all sorts of other stuff in the last couple of weeks. It's awesome and I'm starting to see how very convenient this whole baby-led weaning thing is.

Random non-toys continue to amuse him far more than his actual toys that he has scattered all over the apartment. The big hit this week was a pot and pan that I got out for him one day so I could hopefully make dinner in peace. It worked.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Nine months and nine millions

Tad turned 9 months on Wednesday and had his well check yesterday. He weighed 18 pounds 15 ounces and was 27.25 inches long, which means he's gained 2 pounds 12 ounces since his 6-month visit (but only 8 ounces since his "sick" visit a month ago) and only an inch since said 6-month visit. He's apparently in the 38th percentile for weight and the 11th for height. The pediatrician's office switched to computerized charts recently so now they can give me exact percentiles to obsess over. (Before I had to plot his growth on the WHO charts and figure out an approximate percentile myself.)

Nobody's concerned about his growth, but I have to keep reminding myself that growth charts aren't a grade of my ability to feed my baby properly. I think I'm still a little scarred by his first month of life. (Back then, he dropped from about the 60th to the 25th percentile in weight in 5 weeks. That was legitimately concerning.)

Relatedly, they didn't ask nearly as many questions about his eating habits as I thought they would. Are you still nursing him (yes), is he on solids (yes), how often (about twice a day), what kind (ask for clarification, she says, "Like, does he eat baby food?" I say, "Oh, no, he eats table food"), does he like it (yes, he likes pretty much everything). I've heard so many stories of people having pediatricians push for their 9-month-olds to be on 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, or eating X number of containers of baby food, or whatever, that it was a little disconcerting. I mean, they asked if he likes food. My goal is to get him to like food, but I was under the impression that healthcare professionals were in favor of stuffing babies full of food whether they like it or not. (Again, possible flashbacks to basically having the hospital refuse to discharge him until he was taking so many mL of breastmilk or formula per feeding.)

This take refuses to be a cheery update, so Imma just abandon it now, okay?

I decided a little while ago that I was going to try to publish at least 100 blog posts in 2014. That means I need to publish about 10 this month, so I suppose I should get cracking.

I did attempt to write a day in the life post the other day and it turned out really boring. Also I never finished it. Oops.

Fun fact: My almost-9-month-old still nurses about every 2 hours around the clock. Before he was born I was under the impression that this was a typical newborn schedule. It turns out a typical newborn schedule is actually eating every 45 minutes except for an hours-long cluster feed in the evening followed by sacking out for 4 hours.

Babies are a lot of work.

Here is a picture of him all dressed up (in size 12 month clothes!) for the Annunciation.

He did remarkably well at Mass considering it started at 7:30, which is right about when he starts to act like he's being slowly tortured to death by tiredness. Afterwards we got ice cream and took it home, at which point he crawled around sobbing with exhaustion and Scott had to play with him for a little while. As soon as I finished my ice cream and nursed him he got a second wind and bounced around until 10:30 before I finally walked him down. Weird baby.

Tooth #6 is slooooowly emerging. Up until a day or so ago Tad's poor little gum was all puffy; now you can see a break where the tooth is going to come out, but you can't actually see the tooth yet. Not that he ever lets us get a very good look inside his mouth.

I keep telling Scott that it seems like baby teeth are subject to Zeno's paradox--they always seem to be closer and closer to breaking through but don't actually get there. I tend to say that right before a tooth actually does break through, so maybe having said it again will be good luck or something.

I've been trying to figure out how to bake sandwich bread recently. I think I'm on my third attempt. On attempt #1, the first loaf was a miserable failure because I didn't cook it long enough ("don't overbake" my well-endowed backside...) but the others turned out okay. The second time they were just about perfect, well-done and light and fluffy and tasty. The third time I tried the same thing except for some reason they didn't puff up as well so I tried leaving them out overnight and they still didn't puff well and then tasted NASTY. Turns out that leaving yeast bread out forever doesn't just mean it gets bigger. It means the yeast eats ALL the sugar and leaves you with awful bitter bread. Science, man.

Relatedly, Melanie posted this on Facebook the other day (week? month? I don't remember) and now I want to revamp my tried-and-true chocolate chip cookie recipe to see if I can make it better. (Said recipe is from the 1980 version of the Better Homes And Gardens cookbook. My mama got the cookbook for me off eBay, because the new versions are just not as good.)

Of course, the downside of baking is that it produces dishes, and my kitchen is already a complete wreck even just from the dishes that have accumulated due to all the necessary cooking. Because if I only have half an hour per day when the baby is not hanging off me and crying, I'm going to spend it making food so we have something to eat and let the dishes pile up.

I've been kind of floundering in general the last month or two--bad sleep means I'm too tired to get stuff done, and baby fussing all day reduces the opportunities to get stuff done anyway, and then I hit the point where I feel like I'll never catch up so what's the point of bothering to do anything?

I feel like I'm having low-grade PPD, if that's a thing. It's not nearly as bad as it was when Tad was a newborn, but it's kind of not fun to go through life with this unshakeable vague apathy. Prayers would be appreciated if you have any to spare. (And if you live near me, feel free to come over and wash my dishes! I have no shame anymore about accepting help!)

To cheer things up a bit in here, a funny story:

Earlier today, Mom was driving Teresa to her homeschooler art class. They saw a yard sale sign and were talking about the book Caps for Sale; then Teresa started saying, "Teresa for sale! Teresa for sale!" Mom told her she wasn't for sale. Teresa persisted with the topic and decided that if she were for sale she'd be worth 9 million dollars. Then she said that if some rich person came along with 9 million dollars and tried to buy her, she would tell that person, "Sold out! I'm just on display!"

This kid is so worth more than 9 million dollars.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ways to keep a baby entertained indefinitely for less than a dollar

Part One of many.

-Cardboard boxes: Purchase something you need off Amazon. The box comes free.

Warning: The baby may attempt to ingest the cardboard box. This will not injure him, but it might cause you to despair of his ever making it into an Ivy League college, since he is obviously challenged when it comes to "Food" v. "Not Food."

-Ice cream buckets: Buy ice cream in a giant bucket. Eat all the ice cream. Wash the bucket. It is now a baby toy.

-Peaches: Price for half a peach: Maybe a quarter. Time it kept baby entertained: 23 minutes. That's basically forever in 9-month-old time.

(Okay, he's not going to be nine months until Wednesday. But he's getting SO BIG!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Food log 8/2 through 8/12

8/2: Hamburger, watermelon - We went to a La Leche League event (in honor of World Breastfeeding Week) and Tad impressed everyone by destroying a hamburger patty and a slice of watermelon the size of his head. How much he actually ate I don't know, but he certainly enjoyed himself.

8/3: Watermelon, avocado - We went to Scott's parents' house and they had slices of watermelon too! While Tad was destroying another slice I picked some avacado hunks out of my salad and stuck them on his tray. He enjoyed those too. He made people nervous, but I like to think we worked on some BLW education. Either that or I convinced my in-laws once and for all that I am shockingly nonchalant about my baby's safety. (YEB: "How does he handle the seeds in that watermelon?" Me: *looks at baby* "Apparently pretty well." Everybody: "Is he going to hurt himself with that fork?" Me: "He's fine. If he pokes himself in the eye he'll learn not to do it again." Only Scott's dad laughed at that one.)

8/5: Corn on the cob - I will have to see if Scott will let me post a video. Summary: This was a HUGE hit and Tad was very possessive of his corncob and wouldn't let anyone help him hold it.

8/6: Green beans with parmesan and olive oil - After he ate these he got a tiny pink splotch on his cheek which probably wasn't even hives but it made me super nervous and I declared (internally) that he was never having green beans or dairy or olive oil again. You will see how long that resolution lasted later on in this post.

8/7: Tomatoes with pasta - We were having farfalle with actual farmer's market fresh tomatoes. Tad got a tomato slice and a handful of plain noodles. He had fun.

8/8: Green beans with butter, corn on the cob - We had another meal of chicken, fresh green beans, and fresh corn. We tried to pacify Tad with some green beans while the boiling-hot corn cooled down a bit, but he was not impressed. Note to self: Don't eat corn on the cob in front of the baby unless you have an ear cool and ready to hand over.

8/10: Apple; beef with onion and garlic - After church we were sitting around eating lunch before our Holy Hour. I had an apple and I got the bright idea to bite off some of the skin and let Tad chew the flesh. That worked fine except then he didn't want to give it back! I must remember to either peel it all the way before I give it to him or just let him have a whole apple. (Opinions of the members of my Facebook mom's group are split on whether this is a great idea or OH NO CHOKING HAZARD.)

8/11: Applesauce with cinnamon; sweet potato fries cooked in butter - My mom and siblings came by for a quick weekday visit and we went to Chick-fil-a for lunch. Tad got his very own applesauce pouch. I had to squeeze it for him (I made sure to only squeeze when it was NOT in his mouth, in order to maintain a semblance of baby-led-ness), but he enjoyed sucking dribbles of applesauce off the end and chewing on the pouch and whatnot.

Then at dinnertime I made sweet potato fries in butter and he messily devoured one of those.

8/12: Eggs scrambled in soybean oil; chicken - I decided to keep up the pattern of two solid meals per day (I tracked his nursing on Monday and he's still doing that about every 2 hours, so I doubt more solids will hurt his milk intake...), so I gave him some leftover scrambled eggs. They were cooked in "vegetable oil" (which was really legume oil, since it was made from soybeans) that we got from Liza Jane when she unloaded a bunch of pasta and things onto us a few weeks ago. He was exceptionally fussy last night, so perhaps his tummy was a bit upset, but everything was normal at the other end, so if he's soy intolerant it must be the mildest case ever.

Then for dinner I made chicken noodle soup and set some chicken aside for him. I have started a bag of veggie refuse (so far sweet potato peels, carrot peels, and celery leaves) in the freezer in the hopes of someday making chicken stock--I read the ingredients in the can of bouillon and I really don't much like the idea of feeding that to my little baby, so I am trying to learn new skills. (Plus there's less waste!)

The end.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Mei Tais, Milestones, and Mondays

Back at the end of July, Tad and I were very naughty and spent our August allowances on an Infantino Sash.

Fortunately, it has already proven indispensable in my babywearing arsenal. The sling is still our favorite for short trips/going in and out of the car, but the mei tai is a lot easier on my shoulders when I am spending hours and hours pacing the baby back and forth because his teeth hurt too much for him to sleep unless he's in constant motion.

Scott, on the other hand, is still pining for the Ergo we borrowed from a friend for a little while a few months ago. I guess we know what Tad is going to save his allowance/birthday/Christmas money for.

(I don't plan on paying full price for one; I see them on sale gently used for about $70-80 all the time. That's still more than Tad has right now.)

The whole food thing really seems to have clicked with Tad in the last couple of weeks. He would stick food in his mouth before, certainly, but he sticks everything in his mouth. Now, when you give him food he actually seems to be eating it with purpose, and he understands what we're doing when we eat food--to the point where he'll crawl up, put his hands on our knees in the posture of supplication, and open his mouth like a baby bird.

He also started clapping a couple of weeks ago and now does it all the time. It's especially adorable when he does it after nursing or upon seeing me donning the mei tai.

Just a few days later, he accomplished another hand-using milestone by making the sign for "milk." It's obviously an imitation of my signing, but I'm not sure he's entirely clear on what it means yet. He uses it a lot while nursing and when he's hungry, but then sometimes uses it when he's bored or unhappy or otherwise just wants me to pay attention to him and fix whatever ails him. Then again, milk is kind of the cure-all for a baby's woes, so maybe he does know what it means.

Tad's standing skills are improving at an alarming rate. He can hold on with only one hand now--which also means that he's started cruising. We don't have a lot of long pieces of furniture, so he doesn't generally get very far, but it's still getting more and more obvious that he's on the very cusp of walking.

I've been using all my many IQ points figuring out how to babyproof various things. For example, I want to keep the patio door open to save on air conditioning, but I don't want the baby falling through the screen, between the rails, and onto the pavement below. So I have an extra-large box lid propped up in the doorway. He can (and does) stand up against it and look out, but he can't get over it or through it.

I also moved the pack-and-play in front of our bookcases. It was adorable watching him grab encyclicals off the shelf and wave them around while babbling emphatically (obviously practicing for future homilies), but it was less adorable when he would rip off pieces of book covers with his razor-sharp teeth and proceed to ingest them. So the bookcases are blocked off until he further refines his ability to understand the concepts of "food" and "not food."

Did I ever mention that Elder Elder Brother, Mrs. Eeb, and the Eeblings have moved back to Ohio? Because they did. Younger Elder brother and his wife were visiting the ancestral home this past weekend, so on Sunday Scott and Tad and I went over there and all 7 siblings were under one roof for the first time in more than 4 years. Pictures were taken, but none have made it onto Facebook yet. Not that I could post them here even if they had been.

Monday was an interesting day in our household. First my computer refused to connect to the internet, so I tried to check Facebook and other such essentials on Scott's computer while he was getting ready for work. Then Scott's computer decided to crash and we couldn't get it to start up again. He thinks the CPU is fried; apparently we're hoping it's not the motherboard. We'll find out tomorrow after he gets the last essential fix-the-CPU part in the mail.

Then Monday afternoon Tad and I went down for a nap and around 4:15 I heard the phone ring and thought about answering it and then fell asleep for an hour and a half. Scott decided that instead of waiting for me to answer the phone, he'd just walk home from the bus stop. This led to much back-and-forth once I finally woke up and went looking for him. (He left a message on my cell phone, but then he wasn't answering his cell phone, and this is all boring so why am I writing it all out?) Anyway, eventually he got home and I made dinner and all was right with the world.

Speaking of dinner...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Food log 7/26 through 8/1

July 26: Ground beef with onion. I was making chili for dinner and decided to separate out some of the ingredients for the baby. He'd had beef before but gagged a lot; onion was a new thing.

He liked it a lot and did fabulously; apparently his moving-food-in-the-mouth skills have improved since the first time he had ground beef.

July 27: MOAR PASTA. He still loves it, and had nothing resembling an allergic reaction or intolerance.

July 28: Eggs cooked in butter. He's had eggs before and loved them. The butter was new, part of my attempts to insidiously introduce dairy. Nothing of note took place.

July 29: Green beans cooked in butter. He had a grand time with these. They were fresh green beans from the farmer's market, so nice and long, perfect for little baby hands to grip so that little baby teeth can shred.

July 30: Banana. We went over to Liza Jane's house because she was trying to offload some pasta (and we all love pasta, as aforementioned). She offered us all bananas to snack upon and Tad impressed her by gripping half a banana in his little fist and gnawing at the end. I didn't know he could do that, so I was impressed too. Those babies, always getting new skills.

July 31: Ground pork. I had been at Kroger earlier that day and managed to snatch up some meat on deep discount. The grownups got a psuedo-sausage dish; the baby got plain ground pork. He seemed to enjoy employing his ground-beef-eating skillz on this new food.

August 1: Scrambled eggs cooked with milk. More insidious dairy introduction. He spent a displeasing percentage of last night screaming, but I don't know if that's because his tummy hurts from too much dairy or because he's a baby and therefore prone to fits of pique. Further experimentation will be required.

Bonus: List of foods the baby has eaten so far with no reaction, not even a diaper rash:






This list is low on vegetables because they tend to make him gassy. I'm guessing this is a coincidence or a sign of a gut unused to fiber more than an intolerance, but I'm a highly anxious overachiever currently working as a stay-at-home mom; I have to expend my mental energies on something and obsessively tracking my baby's eating might as well be it.