Tuesday, December 1, 2015

An unspecified number of maybe-quick things: 2-year-old edition

I was going to write this on Tad's actual birthday but NaNoWriMo got in the way. Priorities, I haz dem!

Anyway, now I'm going to try to blog a little more to capitalize on the habit of writing thing I've been developing the last month. We'll see what happens.

Brace yourself for bullet points!

- According to the WIC office, he weighs 27 lbs 4 oz and is 34.5" long. (We haven't gotten into the ped for his 24mo well-check yet for boring administrative reasons.) That's a gain of about 2 lbs and 2.5 inches from his 18-month checkup, though of course one must allow margin of error for different scales and different people doing the length measurement.

His weight seems to be leveling off around the 60th percentile, having climbed there from the 25th over the course of about a year. (He dropped from about 70th to 25th in the first month after he was born.)

His height has gotten up to right around the 50th percentile after being in the 10-15th range up until about 18 months! (At the hospital he was something like 90th percentile for height but I'm not sure how accurate that is; he lost an inch and a half between then and the ped at 5 days old and I think the latter measurement would have put him about 50th percentile.) I will be curious to see if it levels off after this or keeps climbing and levels off later. For reference, Scott is about 50th percentile for adult height whereas I'm more like 85-90th. (Which is weird because I don't think of myself as THAT tall, but I guess that top 10% covers a pretty broad range of heights.)

I am probably way too obsessed with percentiles but I guess this is what happens when a statistics geek meets a mom whose baby was *almost* diagnosed Failure To Thrive.

- He slept through the night for the first time ever around 22 months and has done so maybe three more times since. It gives me some hope for the future.

Around the same time, he started having days where he'd really cut back on breastfeeding. He's vacillating wildly right now between days when he nurses 3-4 times and days when he nurses 8-10. I really wouldn't mind having a toddler who consistently sleeps through the night and nurses 3 times a day, but Tad's always been uniquely high-needs so we'll see how things go.

- He still has a hearty appetite but is starting to show signs of pickyness, especially with new foods. I am patting myself on the back for having done baby-led weaning, because for the most part he will reliably eat foods that were introduced regularly before he was a year old. Which is about 95% of the foods we eat regularly now. (To give an example: I recently discovered roasted broccoli and we've been having that once a week or so lately and he's having none of it. But he eats green beans and peas like they're going out of style and will grudgingly accept spinach, so I figure he's okay for green veggies.)

(Side note: I attribute all his "good" qualities, like his appetite, to my superior parenting, and his "bad" qualities, like not sleeping, to fate and genetics. Because I can, that's why.)

- He's kept adding words to his vocabulary rapidly since hitting the 100-word mark a couple of months ago, so I'd say it's somewhere in the 150-200 range now. 2-word phrases are commonplace now and most days he manages 3- and 4-word phrases.

- He continues to identify nouns in books and has started to get into verbs as well--that baby is "eat! eat!", those balls are "fall down!", etc. ("ing" forms are beyond him, of course) It is really amusing to see him "reading" books to himself.

However, he does this identification only when he feels like it, not when you ask him. "What is this called?" while pointing to a beep-beep car just gets you a major side-eye. Asking, "Where is the car?" produces a similarly obstinate result.

- He has started occasionally using personal pronouns. "My" and "mine" are of course the favorites, but he's also used "me" and "I".

He will occasionally say "you" but seems unclear on what it's supposed to mean. Because he is an only child and thinks he's the only person in the universe. ;)

- He recently mastered jumping with both feet off the ground and is ridiculously proud of himself. He will sometimes just jump back and forth around the apartment saying "Wow! Amazing bounce!" with every hop. ("Wow! Amazing!" is one of his favorite descriptors. He learned it from the TV.)

- He has learned how to announce "Poopy diaper!" and "Wet diaper!" at appropriate times, and knows that if his diaper is wet he should "Go potty." (His little potty is sitting next to the changing mat and diaper bin, so when I want him to go over there I just say "Go to the potty!" for simplicity's sake.)

He's completely disinterested in actually peeing or pooping in the potty, though. I'm not too concerned, considering he's barely two and has already obviously made big strides in the bodily awareness department.

- His playdate party trick is drinking out of an open cup without spilling a drop. Seriously, he spills less than I do. Unless he's intentionally knocking over the cup, like a cat.

He can also use spoons expertly and is working on forks. I am planning to introduce him to butter knives soon so he can learn how to cut without risk to his fingers, but I'm out of practice giving him close supervision while eating because he is so good at feeding himself, so I am going to have to work on that habit in myself.

- His new favorite thing is to climb on overturned boxes et al and flip light switches on and off. He also knows how to climb on the dresser in our bedroom (via an overturned clothes hamper) and turn the music on my CD player/alarm clock on and off. There were a few days when he kept turning the volume up and I was worried I was going to have to bar him from the bedroom for fear of his ears, but then one time he accidentally turned it up to 5 times the usual volume while it was off and then turned the music on and scared himself because it was so loud. He hasn't tried to adjust the volume since. So I guess natural consequences saved the day there.

- In other fine motor news, he knows how to string big beads on yarn, but doesn't have much opportunity to practice this skill because he can just barely fit the beads in his mouth so I of course have to supervise him closely when he's playing with them. Are we noticing a theme of me not liking to give him things that require close supervision? I also don't let him draw and color nearly as much as I should. He has a magnadoodle and some "magic" watercolor coloring books on his Christmas list to help compensate for my inattentiveness.

- He has thoroughly mastered peg puzzles (the ones that are barely more complex than shape sorters) and while at my parents' house over Thanksgiving was doing pretty well with puzzles like this one. I am not sure if I should get him some puzzles like that or move on to simple jigsaw puzzles to challenge him a bit.

- Imaginative play is in full swing. Mostly he just pretends things are beep-beep cars and phones. Just about anything can be a beep-beep car or a phone if you put your mind to it.

He does also have a couple of favorite toys (not to the level of "lovies", but there's a slight preference)--a little naked baby doll that he commandeered from my younger siblings, and a stuffed tiger that I got for Scott as a birthday present several years ago. The dolly and the tiger both frequently get "hug, hug!" and get fed frozen peas and offered sips of water.

- He has started to thoroughly enjoy the clean-up game--he will throw his blocks, toys, and books back into their bins while saying "Yay! Yay!" and clapping for himself after every item. And then once they're picked up he will promptly dump them back out again and scatter them around the room, the better to pick them up next time!

When he's a little older we'll work on the "only one thing strewn across the living room at a time" rule.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Also, kid, sorry, but you're going to have to pay for it yourself

There is a thing that happens sometimes, when moms are talking to each other--yes, Scott, it is a thing that happens in meatspace and not just a fake trend from the internet, and I know this because I have done it myself--where they will make a joking reference to their kids' future therapy as a sort of preemptive acknowledgement of their flaws.

Have you heard this sort of thing?

"Oh, my kid always wears his older brother's hand-me-down Halloween costume. Guess he'll have something to talk about in therapy, ha ha."

"Oh, yes, we never bought her a Tickle-Me-Elmo doll, guess we should take the money we saved and put it aside for therapy, tee hee."

(Considering I am a mom I should know about some kind of modern trend to substitute for Tickle-Me-Elmo--side note, I never got one of those and that's okay because I found them vaguely terrifying--but I do not. Maybe I should complain about my lack of pop culture awareness in therapy.)

And I totally get why this is a thing. It's the same impulse as "My kid fell off the table and bust open his lip, please mail me my Mother Of The Year trophy." We're preemptively and a little sarcastically criticizing ourselves so that other people don't jump on our Facebook status or casual comment with, "ACTUALLY have you thought about not being such a sucky mom?"

(Pro tip: If you regularly feel compelled to begin sentences with the word "Actually," you are probably kind of pretentious. Maybe dial it down a bit.)

But it makes me wonder: Why is therapy a thing we invoke like the boogeyman of motherhood, where only the bad moms who suck at everything have kids who go to therapy, LOL? Is that really the standard I aspire to, to have kids who don't go to therapy?

Given my genes, sorry, current kid and future kids, you're probably doomed to some kind of chronic mood disorder. Sorry 'bout that chromosome. But even aside from that--if I have a kid who's totally neurotypical and totally healthy and still goes to therapy, I think I will have actually done a really good job as a mom.

Because you know what going to therapy means? Going to therapy means that you have the self-awareness to realize you're struggling. (And we all struggle, thought some more than others, like Animal Farm.) It means you have the humility and good sense to know when to call it and say, "Hey, this is more struggle than I can handle on my own." And if they talk about me in therapy, well, I already knew I'm human, and it seems better for them to talk that out with a therapist than to just let it fester, or to hide it from the world because they think we need to maintain a perfect shiny family image even in front of therapists so we can't ever say, "Yeah, my mom was awesome most of the time but a few times she wrote blog posts about how I'm too much work."

If I can't be the perfect mom, then I'll consider second best (and good enough) to be "mom who gives her kids the tools to deal with all the mistakes she made."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On worthwhile endeavors and fixed points

A long time ago, when Tad was maybe six weeks old, I was talking on the phone to a very pregnant friend and she asked me, "Is he worth it?" And I paused. And she teased me a little. And I told her to ask me again when I wasn't quite so sleep-deprived.

Almost two years later, I'm still not quite sure how to answer that question. How do you take the utterly delightful human being that he is now (he likes to do things over and over again just to make you laugh, asking "Funny?" to make sure you are enjoying it; and he insists on regular group hugs; and he declares "Wow! Amazing milk!" before he begins to nurse, which I never would have anticipated when I was sobbing my way through those early growth spurts) and weigh it against a year of crippling hormone-induced anxiety and months of equally crippling hormone-induced depression and two years of sleepless nights (he's slept all the way through the night three times so far and we consider that a cause for celebration) and SO. MUCH. SCREAMING? I don't know how you do that, how you decide what's "worth it" or not. I mean, the theological answer is that he's a human being and infinitely valuable and therefore "worth" any amount of suffering and sacrifice but the human answer is that I honestly still don't know if I would have pushed so hard for parenthood had I known just how difficult it was going to be.

But I'm grateful that I wasn't able to make that informed decision, that I could never have believed what the last two and a half years would be like even if somebody told me. I think it's right that he's here. I think it's sort of inevitable that he's here, like the Tenth Doctor always talking about fixed points in time. He's not "worth it" or "not worth it"; he just is, as inexorable as the fires of Pompeii--and just about as good at destroying one's living room.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The next 50 words

Yes, he's at least doubled his vocabulary since mid-August. I had half a mind to keep tracking his words until he turns 2, but around the 100 word mark I just lost my desire to do so, which means I'll stop writing these posts after this. (You: "Yeah, nobody but his mother cared about this stuff.")

Side note: He's also moved from 2-word sentences (early August) to 3- and even one or two 4-word sentences.






what happened?



back (as in putting an object back where it belongs, not the body part)


Friday, September 18, 2015

What's for supper?, you don't know my LYFE edition

Saturday: I made sort of mushroom-pork-rice stir-fry deal. Previously this had been pork chops, mushroom sauce, and rice on the side, but I hate having random dregs of leftover rice so I just threw it all together. Bonus: Since the pork is pre-cubed, we don't have to make the baby ragey by using steak knives in front of him without letting him use one. WE'RE SO MEAN.

Sunday: Leftovers.

Monday: Chicken leg quarters and red potatoes, coated in olive oil + spices and roasted in the oven. Except it turned out I only had four (itty-bitty!) potatoes and I also realized as I was putting the food in the oven that I didn't include any kind of non-starchy vegetable with this meal. So basically we ate a few cubes of potato and some giant slabs of meat for dinner.

Tuesday: Chili and cornbread. No unpleasant realizations occurred during meal prep (tomato sauce is too a vegetable), but I was still vaguely irritated by the time we sat down to eat because it turns out that making hearty soups does not in fact force the weather to become appropriately autumnal and I get cranky when I'm all sweaty from being in the kitchen when it's 90 degrees out. (Seriously, September, what is wrong with you?)

Wednesday: Hey, I have a picture for this one!

I made slow-cooker pork loin and homemade gravy from the juices and mashed potatoes and roasted cauliflower. I was immensely proud of myself both for making such a "fancy" dinner (side dishes!) and for trying cauliflower for the first time ever. (It was delicious.)

However, Scott didn't care for the cauliflower ("It's very...cauliflowery.") and Tad didn't eat his dinner at all--though when he begged for food at 9:30 and I gave him his plate again, he ate all the potatoes and about half of the pork. (That's his plate pictured above; I'm sure the "proper" thing to do is to give him only a tablespoon or so of potatoes instead of a quarter cup so he will be forced by sheer hunger to try the cauliflower, but whatever. He has another 24 years to get around to trying cauliflower if he wants to beat my record.)

Thursday: I made Southwest Chicken (salsa on the side). Tad happily noshed on some chicken while the grownups dished up their portions but then as soon as we sat down he was saying "All done! All done!" So in a fit of inspiration I sat him in a regular chair at the big table instead of in his high chair and he happily ate several more bites of dinner before getting distracted because I was taking his picture.

(I could post a picture here too but I'd have to upload it from my camera and that seems like too much work. Just imagine a tiny little toddler sitting in a regular chair all serious-like.)

Friday: I have veggie soup going in the crockpot (I have been a crockpotting fiend lately) and will of course be making biscuits later. So on the one hand we will be catching up on our veggies but on the other hand I plan to thoroughly stuff my face with CARBS.


See Simcha for more meals that are judging you for your life choices.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Master Schedule

I am a boring person but not quite so boring as to have yet another post about food. So here is one about chores!

I initially hashed out this schedule in April when a friend did a 30-day housekeeping challenge. It was the first time I ever felt on top of chores in my entire adult life (let alone since I had a baby) and that's a heady feeling so I have tried to preserve and adapt the schedule as our needs change.

Currently my goal is to have less than 3 hours of housework per day. These 3 hours of productive work usually take me the entire 9 hours Scott is gone for his day job, because I have a toddler "helping" me. Theoretically, anything left over when Scott gets back from work is divided evenly between the two of us because Momming Is A Real Job etc. Also theoretically, Saturday chores would be split evenly between us but I have managed to arrange things in such a way that there is almost nothing left to do on Saturdays. I really do prefer to use our limited family time for fun stuff and right now I'm at a season in my life where I CAN get everything done during the workday if I put my mind to it. (If we had a newborn the theoretical chore-sharing would become a lot less theoretical.)

Time given for a chore is "active" time; so for example it takes around 2 hours altogether to wash and dry a load of laundry but there is nothing stopping me from unloading and reloading the dishwasher while the clothes are in the dryer so I only count the time it takes to actually move them over.

And the 30 minutes for dinner prep is basically just a shot in the dark; I do too many different dinners and sometimes avail myself of my wonderful crockpot (in which case there is usually only about 5-10 minutes of active work) but for the purposes of argument we'll accept 30 minutes as an average.

Oh, and we never actually do monthly or seasonal chores unless you count filing our taxes. But we COULD be doing them.

Unload + reload dishwasher (20 min)
Handwash (5 min)
Take out trash (5 min)
Pick up toys (10 min)
Total: 40 min

Wash and dry laundry (15 min)
Clean office (15 min)
Enter data in budget (15 min)
Cook dinner (30 min)
Total: 1 hr 15 min (1 hr 55 min)

Put away laundry (30 min)
Meal plan + make grocery list (30 min)
Clean kitchen (15 min)
Cook dinner (30 min)
Total: 1 hr 45 min (2 hr 25 min)

Grocery shopping + other errands (2 hr)
Clean bedroom (15 min)
Total: 2 hr 15 min (2 hr 55 min)

Do laundry (15 min)
Check + sort mail (5 min)
Clean living + dining rooms (30 min)
Make dinner (30 min)
Total: 1 hr 20 min (2 hr)
Do any errands that were left over after 2 hours on Wednesday (up to 1 hr)

Put away laundry (30 min)
Pay bills (5 min)
Clean bathrooms (30 min)
Make dinner (30 min)
Total: 1 hr 35 min (2 hr 15 min)

Dinner (30 min)
Catch up any undone daily/weekly chores
Do monthly or seasonal chores

Friday, September 4, 2015

What's for supper?

Saturday: Chicken broccoli pasta--you cook a bunch of chicken in a stick of butter and a couple teaspoons each of basil, oregano, and minced garlic. Then you add broccoli and keep cooking until the broccoli is done. And while you're doing all that you cook some pasta on the side and then you mix them all together.

It's actually much simpler than it sounds; I make it as a quick-and-easy meal for when I can't think of anything else. But on Saturday Scott made it so it took an hour and a half and a lot of effort. Hey, you can't learn if you don't try, right?

Sunday: Leftovers.

Monday: Drunken meatballs. I was going to make spaghetti but ran out of stuff, as explained in the other post, so I made this. I roasted up the leftover half-bag of broccoli with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper so that we'd have a vegetable.

Tuesday: Ham and bean soup. This time we did not lock ourselves out of our car and get home an hour later than usual, so the veggies were kind of crunchy. Hey, you can't learn if you don't try, right?

Wednesday: Leftovers again.

Thursday: Roast chicken and vegetables in the crockpot. (Scott has been working late recently because of an Upgrade so I've been putting the crockpot through its paces.) The chicken was so tender that it fell apart and I had to take it out of the crockpot in about 8 pieces and then fish the veggies out of the stew of juices and little bits of skin and chicken bones that ended up at the bottom of the crockpot. It didn't look pretty but it sure tasted good.

My chicken spice rub was a conglomeration of a few different sources and went like this:
3 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper

Once we were done gobbling up all the meat we could hold, I put the big pieces in a dish in the fridge for Saturday lunch (we can't eat them today because Friday, weep weep) and all the little pieces in a dish in the freezer so I could make chicken noodle soup sometime next week. (I also put most of the bones in the freezer.)

Friday: Macaroni and cheese, except I forgot to get shredded cheddar at Aldi when I was there so Tad and I will have to walk to Kroger after his nap and get some. This hurts my miserly heart because the Kroger cheese is 1.67 for 8 ounces and the Aldi cheese is 2.99 for 16 ounces, but let's pretend I would be using at least 35 cents in gas to get to Aldi so I can justify not wanting to put Tad into and out of his carseat for 1 thing.

[insert pause here]

Actually, I just went to this site and apparently gas to drive the 4 miles to Aldi would cost at least 60 cents, even assuming good highway driving mpg. So, am being frugal!

See Simcha for more eating of food.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Drunken Meatballs

I was supposed to make spaghetti for dinner last night, but I ran out of parmesan and only had one 8-oz can of tomato sauce, so that plan got scrapped. Instead I invented a recipe using this Swedish meatball recipe as an inspiration.

1 lb ground beef
1/4 c ground oatmeal
1 large egg
3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 c cooking sherry
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/3 c plain full fat yogurt

Combine beef through pepper until uniform in consistency; shape into balls and set aside. (And then wash your hands.)

Add sherry and Worcestershire sauce to crockpot, then arrange meatballs in layers. You will probably have two layers.

Cook on low for about 4 hours.

Carefully remove meatballs with a slotted spoon and then add flour and yogurt to sauce. Stir until well combined and then add meatballs back in.

Cook on low for another hour.

Serve over pasta or rice.

Friday, August 28, 2015

What's for supper?

Because this linkup is even easier than Seven Quick Takes, which means it's about my speed.

For those of you who are new here, I am cooking for a 26-year-old dudeperson, a 25-year-old ladyperson, and a 21-month-old vortex of hunger. The adult people have assorted health problems that mean we have to eat a lot of meat. Also we just like meat. The little vortex likes meat too.

Saturday: Ham and bean soup. I was going to make this on the stovetop, as one does, but Scott wanted to go to Confession so I converted it to a crockpot soup and got it all ready before we left for Confession and the Vigil Mass. And then I locked my keys in the car so we didn't get home until 7 p.m. and the carrots were kind of mushy but man were we glad for that soup.

Sunday: We had leftovers. We always have leftovers on Sunday because I don't cook because I am more pious than you.

Monday: Chicken alfredo. This alfredo sauce, linguine, chicken, and a couple handfuls of spinach from the bag of spinach I keep in the freezer for emergencies. And when I say "emergencies" I mean "days where I want to feel sanctimonious about our vegetable eating and so put spinach in random stuff."

Tuesday: Beef stroganoff. I put too much salt in it (to compensate for not putting enough salt in the chicken pot pie last week--because that's totally how cooking works) but everybody liked it anyway. Also green beans.

Wednesday: More leftovers!

Thursday: Pork stew. I use this recipe except I use regular potatoes and leave out the ginger and recently leave out the bay leaves as well because I ran out a couple months ago and haven't gotten around to buying more and use a boneless pork loin and substitute half a tablespoon of Italian seasoning for the thyme and allspice and don't really follow the directions except don't forget that sneaky "2 cups of water" because otherwise the stew turns out gummy and gross.

So, yeah, love that recipe. Five stars.

Friday: Stuffed shells. Right now it's 2:30 and I have already mixed up the filling and pretty soon I will cook and stuff the pasta because I want this to be ready to pop into the oven the second we get home from picking Scott up. Complicated Friday dinners are no bueno in this household because we all get super hangry without enough animal flesh and yet for some reason persist in keeping meatless Fridays year round.

See Simcha for more questionable food choices!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Experimental Cookery

Two recipes for y'all today, both of which will probably be edited without comment as I refine them with further experimentation.

Both of these meals were inspired by, "I have a tight grocery budget so I'm going to use up random things I dig out of the freezer."


Pork and rice stir fry

2 cups rice
A splash of olive oil
2 lbs pork, cubed
2 carrots
1 head broccoli
4 oz mushrooms
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Cook rice in a smallish pot

In a large skillet, cook pork in olive oil

Add vegetables and spices and cook covered for about 20 minutes

Add broth, sauces, and cooked rice and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes

(My husband says that I should buy teriyaki sauce or something like that, considering I don't like the taste of straight-up soy sauce but Worcestershire sauce isn't very Asian.)


Ham and bean soup

1 ham bone with meat on it
10 c water
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp salt
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 onion
2 tbsp parsley
3 cups cooked beans

Add ham bone through salt to crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Put a strainer in a big bowl and pour contents of crockpot into it so that the broth is retained in the bowl and the solid pieces are in the strainer.

Return broth to crockpot; pick meat off hambone and add to broth. Discard bone, vegetables, etc.

Chop additional carrots, celery, and onion and add to ham/broth mixture along with parsley. Cook on low another 3-4 hours.

Add beans and cook for about 15 minutes.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tad in sentences

The Great Language Explosion of 2015 seems to be slowing down a bit. Tad now has a little more than 60 words; a month ago he had hardly more than 20.

Despite this, overgeneralization is still very much a thing he does. For example, any kind of lotion or soap or cream is "coconut" (well, "cokie") because I put coconut oil on him during diaper changes.

During his most recent diaper change, I made the mistake of asking "Do you want coconut oil?" and he replied cheerfully, "No cokie!"


Combining things in two-word phrases is not new; but for the most part I have been somewhat hesitant to count them as "sentences." I mean, do "Toe kick kick!" and "Car beep beep!" really count as sentences? Yes, he uses all four words separately from each other, it's not a fixed phrase like "All done" or "What's that?" but is it really combining two concepts when the concepts in question are so similar?

Anyway, a few minutes after his "No cokie!" declaration, Tad was drinking out of a black water bottle and seemed to be experiencing some difficulty. Guessing that the water bottle was empty, I asked him, "Do you want more water?"

Instead of doing the trusty point-and-grunt or even just saying "More," Tad thought it over for a second and then said in a slightly anxious tone, "Ah duh cuppie; ah duh cuppie." (All done cup; all done cup.)

Reader, I gave him more water. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The First 50 Words

Adapted from a running list I have in my drafts folder.

all done

vroom vroom
beep beep

right there
thank you


Where's Daddy? + Peek-a-boo!


what's that
time (Baby Signing Time)

the end
coconut (coconut oil)

hair (hairbrush)

peanut butter

Monday, August 10, 2015


Tad definitely hit his language explosion recently and I have been posting a ton of cute stories on Facebook but sometimes there are just too many and I thought, "Maybe I should start a closed group or something and only people who REALLY want to see the cute stories will have to read them."

Then I remembered I have a blog. So:


The other day I was wearing a shirt that has a very small train as part of the graphic on the front of the shirt. Tad pointed to it and said, "Caw! Bee bee!"

He always calls trains car-beep-beep (if it has wheels at all, it's a car-beep-beep) so I think that still counts as "Identifying pictures by naming", which is a big language milestone for babies his age.

(He can also identify balls and cups in his books.)


Yesterday we went for an evening walk in the stroller and it started to drizzle a bit so I put the sunshade down and Tad looked up and then said "Hah!" (Hat!) while making the appropriate sign.

It is sort of like a hat, isn't it?


On a non-language related note, he knows all the steps to starting the dishwasher now. Once we've unloaded it I always suggest that he should shut the door and go on back out of the kitchen (so I can scrub and load the dirty dishes without worrying about him grabbing a dirty steak knife) and he always insists that I put soap in the little soap compartment first. Then he insists that I turn the lever that locks the door. Then he turns the knob that starts the dishwasher...and he doesn't even turn it randomly; he turns it only just far enough for the dishwasher to kick on.

Okay, he forgets one step: He does this while the dishwasher is EMPTY, not full of dirty dishes. We might have to work on that before the landlord raises our rent for using too much water.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Groundhog Day

I have a 19-month post half-written and now Tad is 20 months. The thought of publishing TWO WHOLE POSTS in one month in order to catch up gives me a fit of apathy, though. Poor thing will have to survive with only Facebook to record his early genius.


Went to therapy today and it felt frustrating and unproductive. None of the solutions to my problems are things I didn't already know. Then again, none of the problems are new. It's very meta; one of the major reasons I'm depressed is because I feel like nothing ever changes, and even therapy doesn't help because the therapy sessions are all the same!


I'm supposed to be making a grocery list; how long before somebody notices I'm not doing what I'm supposed to do with my little bits of stolen time?


One of these days I'll be back for real, promise.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Stuffed shells

Slightly adapted from a freezer meal book my mother owns

1/2 box jumbo shells or manicotti
16 oz cottage cheese
8 oz (2 cups) grated mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/2 tsp oregano
a few shakes each salt and pepper

16 oz spaghetti sauce


Cook pasta for 1/2 the recommended time

While pasta is cooking, combine cheeses, eggs, and spices

Pour half of spaghetti sauce into high-sided baking dish--a 13x9 pan works well in my experience.

Drain pasta and spoon filling inside; place in a single layer in dish

Drizzle remaining spaghetti sauce over the top of the pasta

Cook at 350 for 30 minutes

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Creamy macaroni and cheese

I realized just now that I never got around to posting my macaroni and cheese recipe, but that's okay because I recently changed it up to be better.

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 c flour
3 c milk
2 c shredded cheese (half cheddar and half mozzarella is really good)
4 oz (1/2 block) cream cheese, broken into chunks
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

12-16 oz (1 box) macaroni noodles


Cook noodles according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in large skillet.

Add flour and stir until it forms a paste.

Add milk gradually, stirring to incorporate with flour/butter mixture.

Cook over low heat until mixture is thick and bubbly.

Add all the cheeses. Continue cooking until they are melted.

Mix with cooked noodles.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: 18 month update with unrelated pictures

1. Tad turned 18 months old last week and had a checkup, as one might expect. He weighed 25 lbs 4 oz and was 32 inches long, both of which were significant jumps up the percentile charts from his 15-month stats. I am immensely pleased, which makes me think that I need to keep reminding myself that this isn't a test where getting anything less than 60% is flunking.

He kept pretending to drink this olive oil.
And then got mad when I wouldn't open it and let him drink it for real.

2. There were a couple of variations from the normal routine at the appointment. First, I had to fill out an autism screening questionnaire in the waiting room before the appointment (he passed with flying colors) and then after Tad was weighed and measured the nurse was going to prick his foot to test his iron levels until I said that he'd just been checked at a WIC appointment two days before. The nurse had to go ask Dr. P if we were allowed to skip the iron test in that case and he said yes. I really appreciated that; a lot of doctor's offices nowadays seem to go by the policy of, "If it's not in the computer it never happened."

I made a lasagna for Mother's Day.
Tad ate a whole adult-sized portion and still had room for dessert.
No wonder he's growing so fast.

3. After that we got our standard battery of questions from a doctor-in-training. This one was new and introduced herself as a "student doctor"; I have no idea if she meant medical student or resident, so we'll just call her the student doctor. Anyway, she asked how many words he can say (20+, when the "right" answer is apparently 3-6), whether he can walk backwards (yes) and up stairs (no, but he tries), whether he drinks from a cup instead of a bottle (yes, and mostly water, only rarely juice), whether he's still rear-facing in his car seat (yes), etc. Something that I really appreciated about her was that when she asked if he was still nursing and how often, she accepted my answer of "as often as he wants" instead of pressing for greater specificity. Now, granted, I could just as easily have told her that he nurses somewhere in the order of 10-12 times a day, but I have a feeling that would produce a bit of a sensation and one tries to avoid those at the doctor's office.

He loves this hat. It's "2T-4T" because his head is huge.

4. Tad remained suspicious but composed during Student Doctor's exam; when Dr. P came in to give his own exam, then Tad started crying. I joked that he's obviously a ladies' man and everybody laughed, but afterwards I was thinking that maybe I'm on to something there--for example, Tad had two sick visits in April/May, one with an unfamiliar male doctor (he screamed the whole time) and one with an unfamiliar female doctor (he was suspicious but composed). I guess we'll see; by his next well-check in November he might have outgrown his aversion to people who are Not Mom altogether, which will probably be good for the preservation of Dr. P's hearing.

He dragged the nursing stool clear across the apartment
in an attempt to get over the baby gate.

5. By the way, that second sick visit with a lady doctor? We took him in about two weeks after his ear infection diagnosis because he'd finished his antibiotics but wasn't perking up as we'd expect, and it turned out he had strep. That was a pretty clever catch on the doctor's part--she couldn't get a good look at his throat to see if it was inflamed, but she noticed he had an unusual rash on his chest and so decided to swab him anyway, and sure enough she was right. So he went on another course of antibiotics for that and now seems to be all better, though he still has his moments of bursting into tears and dramatically draping himself over the nearest horizontal surface. He's a toddler; that happens.

Incidentally, it seems there is some kind of cosmic payback for having a child who never sleeps: He takes medicine. Through both courses of antibiotics (one bubblegum flavored and one strawberry) I would wave the syringe of medicine at him and he would come running and tip his head back like an eager baby bird. He's also shockingly compliant when I help him drink from little medicine cups. (He's outgrown the "infant's" ibuprofen by weight--it only goes to 23 lbs--so he's been taking "children's" when needed. There are ways to adjust the dose upward on the infant's and still use the syringe, but it's inconvenient when he's perfectly happy to do it this way.)

I made this sling! I should tell you about that,
but I probably won't get around to it.

6. His leap in expressive language is definitely underway. A few words (and one "sign") he's added since my last blog post:

- Baa, baa: He uses this for all animals--sheep, cows, horses, and most amusingly, a T-rex. We have been trying to teach him other animal noises; we're not sure if he genuinely can't figure out which noise goes with which animal or if he just persists in baa-ing because he knows it makes us laugh.

- Wow!/whoa!: His pronunciation flip-flops but he uses this word appropriately, whenever something vaguely surprising or impressive happens

- He folds his hands together as if praying whenever we say grace and often whenever we give him food. If he does this I always say a quick grace and he waits for me to finish and then tucks in. Pious little fellow.

- Boop!: This sounds more like "behhhhh", but he uses it in context, when booping our noses. (That's a new thing he does.)

- Bye!: Sounds like "Bah! Bah!" Very slight pronunciation difference from the sheep noise above, and accompanied by emphatic arm-flapping. (His left arm. I still think he might be left-handed.)


7. And I'll end this post with a completely random skill he's learned: Stepping into pants. If you hold a pair of pants out in front of you, he will come up, put his hands on your arms for balance, and step right in! No wrestling him to the ground and forcing him in required! (Though good luck getting him to stay still long enough to zip the fly, if there is one.)

Toddlers are amused by the weirdest things.


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

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Good enough sandwich bread

This recipe is my own conglomeration but owes a great deal to a video tutorial Geek Lady posted on Facebook which got me into actually baking bread semi-successfully for the first time ever. I then heavily tweaked her recipe to suit my own purposes. 

4 c all-purpose flour, divided
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 c very hot water

- Stir together 2 c flour, yeast, salt, and sugar

- Add water and stir everything together again. The water should be about 110*F or hot enough that you can stick your fingers in it for a second but not leave them there. (You should be able to get it to come out of the tap this hot if you turn the handle all the way over.)

-Turn the oven to "warm" (or whatever its lowest temperature is) and let it preheat. Once it's done preheating, TURN IT OFF.

- While waiting, take off all your rings and gradually add remaining 2 c of flour, kneading as you go. This step should not take more than 5 minutes or so; you just want to knead enough to incorporate the flour.

NB: Go by the feel of the bread more than by the exact amount of flour. You don't want the dough to be sticky but you want it to be pretty soft and pliable still. If it feels like Play-Doh you've got too much flour.

- Cover the dough and put it in the warmed-and-somewhat-cooled oven for a couple of hours. Go grocery shopping or take a nap or something.

- Take the dough out, preheat oven to "warm" again, turn it off again once it's done.

- While your oven is rewarming, grease a loaf pan, peel your dough off the sides of the bowl (it will have become somewhat sticky while rising), and form it into a rough oblong before dropping it into the pan. It helps to not wash the butter/oil/whatever off your hands in between the two parts of this step.

- Stick the dough back in the oven for a while, maybe an hour or so, until it comes a little ways over the top of the pan.

- Take the risen loaf out of the oven and preheat to 400*.

- Bake for about 20 minutes.

- Allow to cool completely before slicing.


I would like to figure out some whole-grain variations at some point but for whatever reason life has not allowed for the purchase of the necessary ingredients. I am very busy doing stuff on Facebook, don't you know?

Also, I am quite sure that I am Doing It Wrong somehow when it comes to bread-baking but we haven't died yet so I will carry on.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Things I believe even when I don't believe in anything else:

- If I didn't think that God was real, I wouldn't be mad at him.

- If I didn't believe that he could communicate with us, that he could show his love and everything else in ways we can understand, then I would not be still trying to understand.

(No, really; saying that God loves me but that his love doesn't look like love or feel like love or have the results one would expect of love is not an adequate answer. Try again.)

- If God is who I always believed he was (who I still believe he is even when I think I'm irrational for believing it), then he's not threatened by my anger or doubt or anything else in the tangled little knot of my spiritual life. If he God as I believe him to be (the only God I've ever wanted to believe in), he'll be waiting. Always.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: 17 months

Yes, my blog is a glorified baby book now.


We've spent most of the last month battling Tad's first ear infection, which as it turns out is a milestone I'd much rather skip. We didn't even realize it was an ear infection for almost two weeks because his only symptom was waking up in the middle of the night and crying inconsolably, and bad sleep is kind of his trademark. He doesn't need a reason to wake up in the night.

But two weeks ago Scott used his day off to persuade me to call the pediatrician and much to my shock the nurse instructed us to bring him in rather than telling me to buy earplugs as I expected she would. And lo, he had an ear infection after all. I felt pretty terrible about not bringing him in sooner, let me tell you.

As penance I faithfully remembered to give him his pink medicine twice a day every day until it was gone. (Weird baby actually LIKES taking medicine, so it wasn't even that penitential.) He finished it earlier this week and still seems kind of out of sorts. We're currently keeping a close eye on him to make sure we don't have to take him in for a follow-up.


Being sick for the better part of three weeks hasn't seemed to put a damper on his rapid acquisition of developmental milestones, so allow me to begin a recitation!

First off, he eats with a spoon now! (Occasionally, when he feels like it.) I was particularly preoccupied with encouraging the use of utensils because the pediatrician asked about it at the 15-month well-check and I had to answer no, much to my chagrin. (Even though I'm sure the idea is for your kid to be "yes" on some things and "no" on others because AVERAGES.)

Of course, I've comforted myself with the thought that really he only abstained from utensil use because he was SO GOOD at feeding himself with his hands, far superior to other babies his age. ;)


And in the field of gross motor skills we have climbing. SO MUCH CLIMBING. We went to my parents' house last weekend and he spent the entire time we were there OBSESSED with going up and down the stairs. He can crawl up stairs and slither down on his belly really well. He's been trying to figure out how to step up and down stairs, but it's hard for him because he's so short.

His other new favorite thing is climbing on our dining room table. On the plus side, we now have it all cleared off so we can eat dinner as a family instead of hiding behind our laptops.


We're still waiting on the language explosion, but he has added a word or two to his vocabulary this month.

- "Ai!" meaning, of course, "Hi!" He sometimes says this when I walk into a room but mostly uses it when he sees himself in a mirror or other reflective surface, at which point he will greet himself, grin broadly, and strike a pose. Little narcissist.

- This gesture, which means "Hold me!" (not a formal sign, obviously, but he uses it consistently to communicate an idea, so maybe it counts?)

Notice that he's standing on the table wearing
nothing but a diaper. Toddlers, man.

- When playing with his toy animals he has said "Woo!" (Moo?) and "Baa!" respectively, but each of those only once so I don't count them yet.


In the category of receptive language, we have two-step directions! The story:

About two weeks ago, Tad was eating orange slices and leaving the peels scattered all over the living room, as he does. So as soon as he finished the last slice I told him, "Put that [the peel in his hand] in the sink." And he did!

Since I was feeling bold, I said, "Go get the other orange peel and put it in the sink." I may have pointed; I don't remember. Tad wandered around for a while, picked up a peel and nibbled some extra orange bits off of it, wandered around some more--and then came back and deposited the peel in the sink! I had to strive mightily to avoid reminding him of his directions during the wandering around, but if I reminded him, "Put it in the sink" after he picked up the peel, that wouldn't have counted as following two-step directions, would it?


I have a feeling that his expressive language is going to explode soon and it all stems from a theory I have about food.

See, during April I nicknamed Tad "Paleo Baby" because he would seriously eat almost nothing but meat. He rejected homemade waffles once in favor of eating 4 sausage links in one sitting. And then at the end of April he made all those huge leaps in gross motor skills--you know, things that require muscle development, which requires protein.

But this last week or so, since he mastered those skills, Tad has been going crazy for pasta, Cheerios, bananas--carby foods. Do you know what carbs fuel? Your BRAIN. So I think he is going to make a major cognitive leap soon and he's at about the right age for that to be his language explosion.


Lest you think it's all developmental milestone bootcamp over here, we've also lately gotten into the habit of going for almost-daily walks. At first I would just let him walk and we'd go to the stop sign at the end of our street and back, but then some relatives moved away and during the decluttering process got rid of one of their strollers. So now Tad has a big green and gray stroller for me to push him around in, which increases our range without killing my back like carriers do. (I don't really have any toddler-friendly babywearing devices; at least not any suitable for long walks.)

Anyway, I like the walks because I get to just zone out and think while Tad is safely strapped in the stroller, and Tad likes the walks because he gets to point and jabber at fire hydrants. Win-win. And it has the added bonus of giving us our daily dose of Vitamin D.

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: 16 months

Tad turned sixteen months old a while ago (I have been very remiss in my blogging), so here is an update!

"You eat yogurt HOW?"
1. His separation anxiety is definitely better. We went to a park playdate the other day and I was expecting to have a fun time chatting with the other moms but instead spent the whole time chasing after him so he didn't wander off and fall in the creek. It's a lot of work. I kind of miss the days when he would cling to my skirt the whole time.

However, it is nice to be able to leave him playing with his father while I run a quick errand or take a shower without coming back to find him crying hysterically in Scott's arms.

The daddy attachment is getting stronger in general, incidentally--the other day, he woke up from his nap and after cuddling with me for a few minutes toddled over to the gate in the doorway of the "office" (the second bedroom where we keep computers and other stuff Tad isn't supposed to touch) and jabbered emphatically for several minutes. When that failed to produce a result, he toddled into the living room, found his jacket, and started trying to put it on. I could just be reading way too much into this, but I am pretty sure he was trying to get Scott to come out of the office and when Scott didn't respond, decided, "Oh, Daddy must have taken the bus to work today; we should go pick him up."

2. He's turning into a very affectionate little guy. At another playdate he was actually playing with a baby about 9 months old--the other baby was sitting and playing with some balls and then threw them; Tad toddled over and fetched the balls back for the other baby. So the other baby grinned and threw them again and Tad fetched them again. They kept that up for quite a while.

He also loves giving hugs. Earlier today he went back and forth between me and Scott for a good few minutes, just hugging each of us alternately.

Who wouldn't want to hug this baby?
3. His favorite toys right now:

- Books. Always books. He reminds me of those aggressively friendly people handing out pamphlets on street corners. Like, seriously, child, I am in the middle of eating, can I read Big Red Barn in a few minutes? (Spoiler: The answer is no. He will pretty much deposit the book directly on my plate in order to force me to read it to him RIGHT THIS SECOND.)

- Blocks. His fine motor skills are ridiculously advanced for his age. I think the main draw for him is not the "making impressive and developmentally advanced towers" thing, but the fact that the solid wood blocks make nice clunking sounds when whacked together.

Six blocks high!
4. He balances out all this sweetness and light by regularly using his genius to get into as much mischief as possible. For a week or two he went through a phase of knocking over chairs--the chairs weren't in his way or anything, he would just walk up to them and shove them over for no reason. Or because, "Hey, this makes a loud noise when I repeatedly rock it back and forth so it bangs against the wall!" (Our poor neighbors.)

Then earlier this week he decided to switch things up by climbing on the chairs. This terrifies me, since of course there's nothing standing between him and climbing on the counter to play with the steak knives except the fact that he hasn't put 2 and 2 together yet. ("I can shove these chairs all around" + "I can climb on top of them to reach other things" = "FREEDOM!!!")

5. His new favorite word (the only word he's added this month) is "Outside." Usually it sounds something like "Ow die." (It is distinct from "Ih deh," which is what he says when pointing to things other than windows.)

There have been patches of nice weather lately, so we have been making an effort to go ow die occasionally, partly to keep the short one from going stir-crazy and partly because my therapist suggested exercise/Vitamin D as an alternative to antidepressants. (SSRIs have been good to me in the past but I'm just not feeling them right now. Hopefully I'll perk up presently and we won't have to have these conversations and can go back to therapy-ing about other stuff.)

A week later he was wearing mittens again.
6. I think his expressive language acquisition might have slowed down because he's busy working on receptive language. He can understand just about everything we say to him now. (I mean, everything that is concretely related to his little toddler life. He probably doesn't understand when Scott talks about Python hooks at length.) Some examples:

- I tell him, "Do you want to go use the potty?" and he trots over to the bedroom door, points, and waits for me to open it. (And then sometimes declines to actually sit on the potty once I've got his diaper off. It's cool, we're in no hurry.)

- I ask, "Do you want to go unload the dishwasher?" and he trots into the kitchen, waits for me to unlock the dishwasher, opens the door, and pulls out the bottom rack. And then starts pulling stuff out and handing it to me so I can put it away. Lately I've even had success with saying, "Can you put that in this drawer?" (He's tall enough to throw things into the waist-height drawers but not take them out yet, thank you Jesus.)

- I offer, "Do you want a cup of water?" and he trots into the kitchen, points at the cabinet where we keep the cups, and grunts affirmatively.

What do you do when you want a drink
but don't want to put down the ducky?
7. A couple of weeks ago, he decided that he no longer wanted to be worn to sleep. He just kicks his legs and merrily stays awake now, whereas before wearing him and pacing back and forth was the magic bullet of sleepiness. In some ways that's nice (my spine is very happy!) but in other ways not so nice--now the only foolproof method for getting him to sleep is strapping him into his carseat and driving around, and gas prices aren't so cheap that I'm going to do that twice a day. So unless our errands are conveniently timed I basically just have to wait for him to get tired and fall asleep on his own. He is definitely not getting the recommended 13-14 hours of sleep right now.

For example, normally he goes down for his nap around noon, but today apparently he is a pious baby heeding the Lord's admonition to stay awake and keep watch, because he got up around 7:00 and it's currently 2:45 and he is STILL AWAKE. I should probably finish this blog post and go rock him in the La-Z-Boy/offer it up/fantasize about how much chocolate I'm going to eat in about 33 hours.

Overtired baby falls asleep in his lunch.
For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spicy Broccoli Soup

Loosely based on this recipe.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups vegetable broth
2-3 cups (1 head) raw broccoli, finely chopped
2 tbsp dry onion flakes
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
(Optional) 1 can tuna

Melt butter in large pot. Add flour and stir to make a paste. Add milk gradually, stirring to incorporate. Add vegetable broth.

Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, chop up a head of broccoli, stems and all.

Add broccoli through red pepper flakes. Do not accidentally do a "shake" of red pepper flakes instead of a "pinch." Trust me. Continue cooking soup on low for 20-25 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add cheese and (optional) tuna and stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and serve. Makes 4-6 servings or enough for 2 hungry adults and 1 very hungry caterpillar toddler.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Chicken Stockbroth Thingy

1 chicken carcass or about 8-10 leg bones (i.e. if you buy a big package of drumsticks and save all the bones)
12 cups water
1 each carrot, celery stalk, and onion, washed and coarsely chopped (but unpeeled/leaves left on)
1-2 tbsp parsley
1-2 tsp minced garlic
2-3 bay leaves
6-8 peppercorns
1-2 tbsp salt*

Just before bedtime, put everything into a crockpot. Turn to low and leave all night.

Makes about 11 cups broth because of evaporation or something.

*I used 2 tbsp and without any added salt the resulting soup was a bit on the salty side even for me, so 1 tbsp would probably be adequate

Friday, March 13, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: A year of cloth diapering

I meant to write this post at the beginning of February but never got around to it...so technically I guess it should be thirteen and a half months of cloth diapering. Anyway...

#1: The diapers

I got one-size pockets because I figured that would be relatively easy. My husband still thinks they're too hard. Though he's also scared of ring slings, so his crunchy parenting cred is pretty low.

I have 29 diapers (12 of these, 16 of these, and 1 of these) and wash twice a week. Sometimes waiting for the diapers to line dry cuts it pretty close. (As I type this, my napping toddler is wearing the last clean and stuffed diaper in the apartment, so I should probably stuff a few before he wakes up.) If I washed 3 times a week like I'm supposed to or had maybe 32-34 diapers it would work nicely.

A big disadvantage of OS pockets is that even though they claim to fit 8+ pounds, they really don't fit until at least 10 pounds. I didn't think this would be a problem since of course I was going to go 2 weeks overdue and have a 10-lb baby. Instead I went 3 weeks early and had an 8-lb baby who subsequently decided that gaining weight is for chumps. So he didn't top 10 lbs until he was a little past 2 months old.

I used to like the BumGenius diapers better because they fit better, but now that he's bigger the China diapers are the ones that fit better. The BGs have also started to look a bit worn in spots and the China diapers haven't, even though I rotate them evenly.

Next baby I might bridge the gap between "I'm functional enough to do laundry" and "baby is big enough to wear pockets" by getting a few newborn-sized covers and use prefolds or old T-shirts or what have you. We'll see.

#2: The changing station

I don't have a changing table. Before Tad could roll, I used a Pack-n-Play as a diaper storage unit/changing table and that worked nicely. Now I have one of those under-bed bins under the crib for storing diapers and I change him on the floor.

I have two of these cotton-lined waterproof pads because they're cute. Nowadays I use a plain white plastic pad that came in a box of hand-me-downs 99% of the time, because when Sir Rollsalot inevitably smears poop on it I can just wipe it off instead of having to wash it with the laundry. If I had it to do over I'd just buy a few more plain plastic ones and have done with it.

I have about 63 flannel wipes (I haven't counted them up recently to see if they're all still there)--60 of these and 3 BumGenius that came as a free sample with some diapers my mother bought. 63 is plenty for washing twice a week. I don't like the BG wipes because they're too small and too thick. The OsoCozy ones, on the other hand, are just about perfect in both respects. The only disadvantage with them is that the rainbow-colored trim tends to fray. This doesn't affect the functionality of the wipes but it is unsightly and annoying. (Of course, the old poop stains are also a bit unsightly. Cloth wipes just aren't going to stay pretty after a year of use.)

To wet the wipes before I use them, I use the peri bottle I got in the hospital (if you're the homebirthing type, you can buy peri bottles super cheap on Amazon) filled with plain water. I used to put a few drops of baby shampoo in there too, but now I don't and I haven't noticed a difference.

#3: Dealing with dirty diapers

There are people out there who say that when a baby is exclusively breastfed you don't have to remove the poop from the diapers and this is probably true but when Tad was little and would have massive blowout poops about once a week, I would spray the diapers.

Once he started solids it was definitely necessary, and now it's less necessary again because after he was eating a decent amount it got to the point where I could just shake the solid bits off into the toilet most of the time.

Anyway. We went almost a year with a cheap plastic $15 sprayer from Meijer. Being plastic, it eventually broke. So I invested in an all-metal sprayer--the Bumkins was $10 cheaper than the BumGenius one that looks like exactly the same thing. I've only been using that one about three months so I can't comment on its longevity, but it has a much more powerful spray than the cheapy plastic one and that alone makes me wish I'd ponied up the extra $35 from the beginning.

Wet diapers and pre-sprayed poopy diapers go into a large wet bag that hangs off the bathroom doorknob. I have two, one dark green and one white with blue/green/yellow dots. The dark green one has faded significantly after a year of being washed once a week but otherwise they've held up remarkably well given how much I abuse and overstuff them. They hold pretty much exactly the same number of diapers as a standard sized washing machine.

#4: Doing the laundry 

As mentioned, I wash my diapers twice a week. I take the wet bag and dump its contents into the washing machine and then throw the wet bag right in there too. (This is why I have two wet bags, so I can have one in use and one washing/drying.)

I've tried a few different detergents and so far my favorite is Rockin Green (the unscented hard water formulation, to be precise). One bag lasts me about 5 months and I'm generous with my scoops.

To save money, I hang dry EVERYTHING. Covers, inserts, wipes, anything else that got thrown in there.... A while back I made my life much much easier by getting a cheap drying rack from Wal-Mart so I don't have to hang diapers off the backs of random chairs and stuff. If I stay on top of rotating stuff out when it's dry, I can usually get everything done in about 24 hours and then I stuff it all at once and then I have a day or two off before I wash another load and start it all over again. I look forward to the day when I will have my own laundry room and will only have to line-dry covers.

#5: Leaving the house

To be honest, most of the time when I leave the house I don't even bring diapers. I'm a lazy breastfeeding mom; I don't like to pack things.

On the rare occasions when we go on longer trips or he hasn't done his morning poop yet before we go grocery shopping, I will throw in a waterproof changing mat that came with my diaper bag (okay, I lied in Take #2, I have two plastic mats), a medium wet bag, the peri bottle, and the appropriate number of diapers and wipes. If I end up changing his diaper, I shake any poop into the nearest toilet and then remove the inserts from the pocket and toss everything into the wet bag. When I get home the wet bag gets tossed on the bathroom floor and then next time I wash diapers it gets dumped into the washing machine too. (As in I open it up, empty the contents, and then toss in the wet bag itself.)

When we go to my parents' for the weekend (the only time we've been away overnight since Tad was born) we usually mooch disposable diapers off of them (though I've heard rumors that Matthew is getting cut off when he turns 4, so those days might be over soon) and I will frequently use the opportunity of none of the diapers being in use to strip them with dish soap to remove buildup. (Plus then I don't have to pay extra quarters for all the extra rinses.)

#6: Nighttime diapering and rashes

Up until Tad was about six months old I could just leave him in a double-stuffed diaper overnight and he'd be fine. Once teething entered the scene he started getting much rashier, though. (Molars have caused some particularly nasty rashes, including one that got so bad he got a secondary bacterial infection. I switched to disposables for a week or so and bleached all the diapers when that happened.)

What seems to work fairly well for prevention is slathering him with coconut oil before bed and putting an extra fleece liner in his diaper to wick away the moisture. (Do not buy liners for your cloth diapers. Go to Joann's on 50% off day and get half a yard of fleece and cut it into roughly 4x8 pieces for a baby or 4x12 pieces for a toddler.)

If I slack off with the coconut oil and he actually gets a rash, I add breastmilk* and Vitamin E (cut open a capsule and slather on its contents) to our regimen and that seems to work if I start it early enough. I'm not 100% sure the Vitamin E is an approved cloth diaper thing, but let's pretend, okay?

For bad rashes you can use fleece liners to protect your diapers from butt paste/Vaseline/whatever (use a different color fleece from your regular overnight liners and wash separate so the stuff doesn't get all over the diapers in the wash), but I'm not enough of a purist to do that very often; usually I just buy a cheap pack of disposables and use those for a few days.

*Yes, I just lift my shirt in the middle of a diaper change and hand-express a bit. I'm a weird hippie now, okay?

#7: Why I do it

The biggest reason I cloth diaper is just because I like it. I like pretending that I'm a peaceful wholesome earth mother type instead of a grouchy person who occasionally feeds her kid chocolate chips to bribe him into 10 minutes of quiet. If cloth diapers didn't have that draw for me I really doubt the other advantages would be enough to make me want to do it. But here are a few anyway:

- Cost: Even dealing with coin-op laundry, I estimate that I spend about $25 a month on diapers, which is better than you could do with even generic disposables.

Of course there is the initial outlay, but most of my diapers and supplies were gifts. Plus I don't remember that far back thanks to post-baby amnesia, so the sticker shock has worn off. (And if you do covers and old T-shirts instead of fancy pockets, your initial outlay might not even be that high.)

- Convenience: I know, you all think I'm crazy. I hate leaving the house just that much, that not having to go to the store for diapers is a major selling point for me. Not having to worry about buying a huge case of Size 4 right before a growth spurt. NOT HAVING TO TAKE OUT THE PUTRID TRASH EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

If I had my own washer and dryer (this is a constant refrain for me) it would be even better. I could throw a load in whenever I had a spare minute! I wouldn't have to line-dry! It'd be fabulous. 

(Ask me about this again in about 5 years and see if I actually save time or just adjust my laziness to compensate.) 

- Durability: Disposables are obviously meant to be disposable. But, you know, when my child wears a diaper for a few hours and it starts falling apart, that's maybe a little too disposable. And he can't rip off the cloth diapers and poop on the carpet when I'm not paying attention.

- Leak-proof-ness: We've had blowouts in cloth, don't get me wrong. When Tad was exclusively breastfed he just loved to save his poop for a week and then completely overflow his diaper. But when he was in disposables he would poop up his back EVERY SINGLE TIME. Even when it was only a small poop. 

- Aesthetics: I only have to deal with smell from cloth diapers about 2 minutes out of every week, when I dump the wet bag into the washing machine and 4-day-old-poop smell flies up into the air. The smell from a trash can full of disposables is constant and oppressive. Disposables even smell bad when they're clean! 

Cloth gives my baby a nice pattable bum. (And he hates sleep, so he gets a lot of repetitive bum-patting.)

And they're just plain cute. Especially with penguins on them.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tad's summer wardrobe, 2015 edition

Now that he's staying in the same size longer it's really more of a spring/summer/fall wardrobe, but that would make an unwieldy title.

Before we start, a bit of backstory: When I announced my pregnancy with Tad, Matthew was 17 months old, wearing 18m pants and 24m shirts, roughly. We've gotten a few hand-me-downs in smaller sizes but the bulk of them really start there. So at some point last year I brought home a box full of 18m pants and figured God would multiply the loaves and fishes or something like that.

Sure enough, right about when Tad started fitting snugly into his 12m shirts, my mother went on a thrift-storing spree and bought him a huge number of 18m shirts. I paired them up with the pants to make the following outfits:

 At that point I had 5 casual outfits and 2 church-appropriate outfits. I also had a few extra pairs of pants:

And two sets of pajamas. The dino jammies are 24m; the blue terry sleeper is 2T. They both fit pretty well right now, which is not unexpected since I usually size up in jammies.

Oh, and this jacket (navy, 18-24m), which is actually really great for cold weather because it's lined but still thin enough to wear in a carseat.

I took these pictures about two weeks ago but never got around to posting them. Earlier this week, my mother brought down 2 big boxes labeled "24 month clothes" and I dug through and sorted them out. Sure enough, mostly it was 24m/2T everyday clothes and 3T pajamas, but there were a few things a size down as well. Allow me to show you:

Outfits #8, #9, #10. Coordinating colors for mix-and-match!
Outfits #11, #12. I don't really like rompers, but I couldn't resist the froggy
and I suppose the other one might prove useful eventually.
I was very relieved to have some more summery options--I'm sure Tad will spend most of the summer in nothing but a diaper, but we do go out occasionally and now he doesn't have to sweat it out in long sleeves and pants.

The real wealth was in the 24m/2T pajamas, though.

Pajamas #3, #4, #5
Pajamas #6, #7, #8--#6 even has options for shorts or long pants
#9--Fleecy Thomas the Tank Engine
And last but not least, we complete the summer theme with two pairs of swim trunks. Notice the baby toes at the top of the frame--Tad kept trying to "help" me take pictures.