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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A cheerier update

First, God seemed to know I needed a break, and Mal managed to sleep just over 2 hours in his crib last night, so I got some "alone sleep" for the first time in months. Ahhh. :)

Today, we had Mal's 4 month well check-up, and I LOVE his doctor (whose son is at U of A right now!), but cringe against the vaccination lectures. We *are* going to get Mal vaccinated. We're just waiting until he's a little older, we won't do the STD ones or chicken pox or that kind of thing, and we only want to do one at a time. I have been a little ticked off by the "arrogant that their beliefs trump one hundred years of medical science" things that have been bandied about since the Disneyland measles outbreak. I don't think I know more than the medical community. I just wonder what the increasing number of vaccinations does as a cumulative thing, and want to spread it out, waiting until Mal's crucial early development is behind him. And the only time I had a question about vaccinations, when Daphne was 2 and up until then had been on-schedule and up-to-date with all shots, I was treated like an idiot... and this is what makes people skeptical of what "the authorities" say. When the authorities forget that people love their kids individually and might have the same fears as a huge bloc of people... but they still deserve some attention and serious thought given to their questions. Anyhoo.

So, Mal is at 17 pounds! Such a big kid! The doctor said I could wait until 6 months to start food but recommended not trying on vacation. I told him that's why we stopped a week ago, when it was clear that it was bothering him. Mal is also 25.5 inches long. His head is now only in the 48th percentile. Whew.

The doctor, like we, didn't feel any teeth. He said it's possible to "teethe" and then not have teeth erupt for six months. He did tell me I can give Mal some Tylenol, so when he wakes up (yea, car ride!) I'll take him to CVS to get some for the trip.

The 4-month handout from the office was amusing. "Most [breast-fed] infants need at least 5 to 6 breast-feedings in a 24-hour period until solid feedings are well established." No problem. We sometimes do that during a night. Also, in the part about continuing to make your baby go to bed when he's "drowsy but not asleep," a skill which "must be learned," it says it's okay to have a toy in the corner of the crib (but not pillows, bulky blankets, etc.) because "your baby will look forward to seeing it's familiar features..." Well, so, great at giving advice but not so great at proof-reading, eh?!

So, here's a picture of my dad the day he was born. HE'S SLEEPING ON A PILLOW! *gasp*

I'm almost certain he survived! *fingers crossed*

Also, I really want one of those baskets. They look very portable and easy.

You should see me... I've been using Mal's (rare) nap to alternately furiously type this and sweep. Sweep a little, write a little... And we're having the house cleaned tomorrow! But I *hate* stepping on litter. This is why I almost always wear shoes around the house. Blehh.

Yesterday, I had to write that blog post. I told James that one of the reasons I feel like I'm not dealing so well with stuff is that I write to process and I haven't been able to really dig in a write anything in almost a third of a year. This is difficult, and if you're a writer, you'll understand. It's like therapy. It's my pensieve

Blah blah. He woke up. :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"He's such a happy baby!"

This afternoon, I was sitting out on the porch with Mal, and as people walked by, he'd grin and flirt with them. Two people commented, "He's such a happy baby!"

What they didn't know is that I was sitting on the porch waiting for my husband to get home. I'd called him at work fifteen minutes earlier, sobbing hysterically that I needed him to come home, because Mal had been fussing/crying/screaming all morning. I was worn out and frustrated, and my frustration had turned to fury -- not at Mal, of course, because this isn't his fault -- but I'd slammed my fists down on the mats in Mal's room and it scared him, which made him cry even more, then I was all shaky and couldn't feel my legs, and... I called James. I'd have called my sister if she hadn't been working all day. But I couldn't take being alone anymore and I was scared.

My sister had posted a picture of Mal on Instagram yesterday, and so many people said the same thing: "He's a happy little guy!"

And his overall disposition *is* happy. Thing is, there is something physiologically that bothers him. A lot. And even then, he wants to be happy; we've seen him giggling through tears before the crying takes over often. 

So I'd spent all morning trying different things. Want to lie and play in the gym? That works for a couple of min-- Whoops! He's upset now. Want to nurse? No. Okay, want me to rock you? Aww, he likes that-- Not anymore! Um, I'll strap you on and we'll sweep! No. I'll just sit here and hold you... Well, you don't like that, either. How about a bath? Yea! He's happy! Except now he is screaming like someone stabbed him. And he's in the water. What happened?

This is what wears me out. And then these thoughts fill up my brain: I miss my daughter. I am constantly leaving the room she's in because Mal is crying. I like sitting out on the porch but I miss hanging out with her. And the books all say to be ready to talk to your kid when they're getting ready for bed because that's when they are open, but by the time she heads off to bed, I've already been crashed out or three or four hours. I can't buy my own groceries. I can't clean my own house. Many times, I can't even make dinner for my family. The only reason that happens pretty regularly is because of the crock pot, so whenever I get a few moments I can throw things in. What is wrong with me? It's been four months. People have babies all of the time. It doesn't break them the way it breaks me. They can handle it. Daphne's dad wanted a divorce by the time Daphne was a year old. I think he thought I was crazy. He told me he didn't trust me as a partner. James says he won't. But I certainly feel crazy sometimes. I'd love to get a babysitter and go out to dinner with James, or somewhere special with Daphne. But we can't do that yet. There is never any kind of break for me. It's relentless and exhausting. And I love this little boy who's awake now and starting up at me, and if he's just be this chill most of the time I feel like I could handle it. I don't feel like I'm handling it now, though.

And today, before I called James, I wondered who I'd call if James couldn't come. Who do you call and say, "I think I'm losing my grip on reality because there's no way anyone should be this out of control in the presence of a small child"? 

Now, before anyone says anything, know a couple of things: 1) Mal is medically fine. He's likely teething and some of the colic has come back. The doctor is not worried about him. 2) I'm not going to hurt him or myself or anything. I'm just humiliated and sort of hopeless because of my poor handling of the constant fuss-to-cry-to-screaming that I know logically and that you people keep telling me won't last forever... but in the moments, it feels like it might just last forever. It's been four months, a third of a year. It might last a year. It might last two. That might as well be forever now. I want my boy to feel good. I want him to be as happy as he is when his nervous system or whatever isn't telling him to freak out.

Why am I writing this, and publishing it? Well, first, I want to remember. Second, I want to be real. If you have a little one, and especially if it wasn't an easy thing and you're wondering now why it's so hard and why you're not happy every second, I want to let you know that other people have a hard time, too, and that you're not alone. Third, I want to ask for people to stop saying Mal's growing up "too fast" because I am ready for him to outgrow this thing that is making him miserable.

While we're at it, may I ask to put one other thing on the "no fly zone" for things to say? "His fussing stresses you out more than it does (me, us, anyone else, etc.)." NO DUH. Don't feel like I"m calling anyone specific out because probably a half dozen people have said this to me, as I'm packing Mal up to remove him from wherever we are. Yes, I understand he might not be getting on your nerves, but I know what's coming and it's worse. Also, trying to manage him at home is difficult enough; doing it elsewhere is about ten times more stressful. I am leaving for *me*. Please don't be offended. I need the comfort of my home to help balance the discomfort of Mal's unsoothable episodes.

So, yeah, I guess that's it. Thanks for everyone who is praying for us. I hope you'll keep it up. Vacation's in two days, whether we're ready or not... And I definitely feel like we were being extremely optimistic when we planned this. I was thinking of Daphne, and should have realized that no two babies are alike.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: Austin's Baked by Amy's birthday party experience

Yesterday afternoon was cold and rainy, but my nieces, nephews, kids, sister, mom, and I had a fun time decorating at Baked by Amy's. Amy's Ice Creams is a long-time Austin staple, and last year, they opened up their first bakery on 183 in the iFly building (Anderson Mills exit at 183 North). It is conveniently located next to an ice cream shop and Phil's Ice House, which will be awfully handy if you consume as much sugar as we did, but we'll get to that part in a bit...

First of all, the nitty-gritty: Birthday parties at Baked by Amy's start at $200 and can accommodate up to 8 kids (or participants, as they were completely gracious to us adults, so I'm sure they wouldn't balk if you and your best friends showed up ready for some creative, tasty fun). Beyond that, it's $25 per person, and it includes invitations! We had booked last minute, and it wasn't anyone's birthday, so we didn't get the invitations, but you'll see why I feel like this was a great deal...

When we arrived, everything was set up. I'd told her there would be 6-8 of us, and there were 9 places set up, plus the one for the baker.

Oh, and it's in a bakery, so in addition to it looking awesome, it smelled AMAZING.

So, yes, we were set up in the lobby, in front of this deliciousness. We had participants from 5-15... or to 69, if you count the three adults. The youngest two made personalized "chef's" hats (they are really more like food-service or soda jerk hats, but I'm not splitting hairs about that). I'm sure the bigger kids could have done this, too, but the girl who hosted our party didn't pander to them.

Each setting had two cookies (one round and one with a flat end and arced end, both shortbread), two cupcakes (one chocolate and one vanilla), some gummy bears, a few Oreos, and a couple of spoons. There were different-colored icings in cups around the table, as well as some white icing, and a bunch of parchment paper piping bags.

When everyone was ready, the hostess got things started by showing everyone how to make a sunflower decoration on a cupcake.

Put some icing into a piping bag.

Um, mine looks vaguely like a flower, right?

Her leaves were much more precise.

Travis might have sneaked some icing into his mouth. Just maybe.

Some embellishments.

The hostess was so helpful, willing to show extra tricks and give us tips.

The next cupcake, she said to decorate however we wanted. A word of caution, though: tell your kids not to use up the Oreos (like I did!) because you'll need them later!

Next, she showed us how to decorate one of the cookies to look like an owl. Here is the pro's:

I'd used my Oreos (well, I used two and accidentally ate the other one), so...


Then we decorated the other cookie however we wanted to.

After we had all decorated our stuff, we got to head into the kitchen to see the professional do her thing!

She put together a Neapolitan cake for the kids' enjoyment (and ours). 

They even got to help plane the frosting.

She explained that sprinkles or cake crumbs or nuts can hide errors in the icing. Nice tip!

Next, it was time to write the Happy Birthday message, but since we weren't celebrating anything special, the kids had her write "lasagna."

This cake was HUGE. I guess it's a 10-inch cake, but it looks like a monster. Now, I've bought 6-inch cakes from bakeries before that were $80 (it did have a custom design, though), so when you think about the price of this party, and that it includes not only this cake but all of the stuff we made (which is boxed up and you get to take with you), then this is a very reasonable party, price-wise!

All of the kids loved it, from the 5-year-old to the 15-year-old. Each kid can decorate to their own ability, and have as much or as little assistance as they want.

My daughter has had birthday parties at a skating rink and at a gym, and I paid about this much for those facilities, still having to provide the cake and any gift bags we wanted to hand out.

But, as every parent knows, one of the best parts of having a party, especially a crafty party like this, anywhere other than in your own home, is that when it's over, you can just walk away from this:

The aftermath!

You can book your party via email or by calling the bakery (info listed on the website linked to above). A 50% deposit is necessary to hold your reservation.

To review: invitations; 1.5 hour party with dedicated host; chef's hat, 2 cookies, and 2 cupcakes per child; all necessary decorations; 10-inch cake;(the website says "lemonade," but they must have forgotten it in our case); and CLEAN-UP included at $200 for up to 8 kids, and $25 per person beyond that.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My morning/Mal's morning

So, here's what this looks like: I was sitting in Mal's floor, nursing him after having put some homeopathic teething stuff in his mouth but he was still crying. I heard the tower ring 10 o'clock. Mal nursed to sleep, and I got up to put him down, but of course, he woke up. I nursed him on the other side, and he fell asleep, so I put him down on the couch. He slept approximately 10 minutes and woke up fussy. He was crying. I patted his back, etc. but he would not be soothed. I picked him up finally, and he would not let me calm him except for... yes, nursing him. Even though he didn't eat. But he fell back to sleep, so I put him down. And he IMMEDIATELY woke up. This time, I was able to walk around with him and he fell back to sleep, so I put him down. He slept long enough for me to pour and half eat a bowl of cereal. Again, it's crying, flailing, not "self-soothing," so I picked him up. He was awake for a few, while I walked around, but I could tell he was still sleepy and needed rest, so I sat in the rocker and rocked him. He fell back to sleep. Now I've been holding him, propped on my left arm and sleeping on my shoulder, since 11:40. In effect, he's slept 2 hours now. But he will. not. sleep. alone. Just will not. And this is why I'm pretty tired and say wrong words a whole lot. And why my house isn't as clean as I'd like (which, whatever; it wasn't as clean as I'd like when I had all of the time in the world). Hopefully, it explains a lot of things. :)

Mal's just teething

Today, Mal's been wanting to nurse ALL THE TIME, getting fussier quicker than usual, and is on his fourth mini-nap (20ish minutes) of the day. I think he's both teething AND going through a growth spurt.

Beyond that, he's so precious and good-natured. I think he's about outgrown the colic, and boy are we relieved!

He still loves to be held, especially when he's sleeping. When I put him down, he usually wakes up pretty immediately. He is sleeping in his crib the first sleep of the evening, but whereas that used to last between half an hour to three hours, he's waking up within 5-15 minutes at this point. I'm not sure how to "fix" that other than to keep at it, because he isn't able to self-soothe, and so I am usually tired enough that I just pull him into bed with me. And, as usual, we're able to sleep through the night with a couple/few feedings, during which I'm mostly groggy if awake at all, so I still consider that a win.

Oh, Saturday night, though, or Sunday morning, actually, he woke up at 3 AM very perky and pleasant. He smiled and talked to his dad for a few, and then went back to sleep when I pointedly nursed him.

The good thing is that Mal is getting more tolerant of being put down (not like "You're a baby!" but like "Go sit here.") when he's awake. I can get him to hang out in the kitchen in a "walker" for half an hour sometimes, so I can clean up and start dinner. He loves his jumper; I can't wait until we have a living room big enough so he can sit in it and hang out with us while we play games. I'm able to get a few more things done, and feel less overwhelmed by things, so that's nice!

(I started that other stuff yesterday and now it's Tuesday, and I have no idea where I was going, so I'm just going to post this while I have 2 seconds. :D )

(Aaand, now it's Wednesday. This is my life.)

"I don't love the cereal, but this spoon is FANTASTIC!"

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Here. Now.

I'm getting it. I'm getting a lot accomplished now that I've stopped projecting everything into the future and just taking things as they come. This morning, I needed to get a lot done, so I wore Mal while he slept for an hour. Previously, I would have tried to put him down because, dang it, he *has* to learn how to sleep. But I read an article on "high needs" babies, and it helped me rethink things. I'm trying to do what works right this minute, and trust that everything will work out, the way it has a tendency to do.

So, this morning I did some cleaning, got dinner ready, caught up on email, and curled my hair (after this picture was taken) while he snoozed.

And for the first time since Mal was born, I'm looking forward to our vacation at the end of the month. I think we're going to have a lot of fun!

Here's something else... Daphne is amazing. I just have to say that first, because I'm going to follow up with a mystery. Daphne was on a Skype call with a friend Sunday, and they were both drawing. Daphne decided to draw two of her favorite characters, Dipper and Mabel Pines, from "Gravity Falls," in the style of "Ed, Edd, and Eddy." First of all, I think her Mabel is prettier than the original one. She probably spent four hours drawing on her Bamboo tablet (it has a different name now).

Yesterday, she colored the picture and spent another four hours on it. She is meticulous. Incredible. Focused. In her element. She even designed an outfit for Mabel, based on the "no broadcast" color scheme that used to air on the television when the feed went down.

Well, the picture was beautiful and I am so proud of her. She posted it to her tumblr... but today I looked and it wasn't there. This means she might have a tumblr account I don't know about. Must discuss. She probably also has another Instagram. *sigh* Kids. Just have to choose the right time to go at that...