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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Blast from the past (or objects in the rear view mirror appear smaller)

The other day, I received notification that someone had made a comment on an old blog post of mine. (Not super old, as I've been blogging for more than 14 years, like before "blog" was a word. Before even "weblog" was a word. I called it my "online journal.") Anyway, it was one I did on hair dye, and I've done several, so I went back to see which one she meant. It was this one.

Anyway, I noticed something about that blog, and it wasn't how much more natural that color looks than what I use now. It was this:


Next picture is in differently-colored but same model tank and sports bra. I tried to be modest while making a point. And ignore the place where my son scratched me before I realized it was time to trim his nails again.


So, yeah. Not to be indelicate, but... It's part of this whole thing. Holy cow. See what I did there?

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Every day, it seems like Mal "gets" something or does something new.

Yesterday, James was rolling a ball to him, which is something we've both done before... In the past, Mal would just look at the ball, if he noticed it, he'd just kind of watch. This time, he understood what the point of the game was. He tried to do something with the ball once it came to him, mostly rolling it the wrong way, but sometimes putting some backspin on it and getting it back to James. When James would roll it across the wooden floor and it would bounce up onto the mat where Mal was sitting, Mal would giggle. Then he'd reach for it and try to do something with it. This went on for about 10 minutes. It was so fun!

Mal's first non-mushed food: scrambeled egg! He loved it! (He also loved the cashew milk.)

Last night, though, something very weird happened. Mal fell asleep and, as usual, woke up a couple of times shortly after, so I put him back to sleep. After an hour or so, he woke up crying. I tried to soothe him, and he wouldn't have it. He wouldn't nurse. His crying intensified, and he was wanting me to hold him, but also pushing me away, looking around, and seemed very scared and confused. At some point, I called James in because Mal was still looking around and sobbing. When James came in, Mal went straight to him, snuggled up, but then started bawling again. He went back and forth between us a few times, and I started to get panicked. He seemed very, very scared and confused, and all I could think of was, "What if he woke up and he couldn't see? Or hear?" I snapped my finger behind his head, and he looked around to see what I was doing. Then I wiggled them noiselessly in front of his face to get his attention, and moved them around. He tracked those fine, too.

Finally, we took him into the living room where it was light. He kept looking around like he was trying to find something, and he kept just sobbing. He was clearly not in pain. He was sad, confused, scared. After about ten minutes, as Daphne was getting out of the shower and he got a glance at her, he finally let me nurse him, and he fell back to sleep. When he woke up this morning, he was fine. Normal. No idea what happened, but hope it's not a regular thing.

Today, Mal had another cool first. We were out on the porch and heard an ambulance siren. Mal looked over at the fire station! The truck was sitting in the garage, and I said, "That's not the fire truck! It's an ambulance!" We live about 10 blocks from a hospital, and 10 blocks from a police station, then less than a block from the fire station. So we hear a lot of sirens. But Mal is used to the light show that accompanies the fire truck's siren. A couple of minutes later, we heard the ambulance again, and again, Mal stood up and looked down at the fire station. Smart little kid!

So, it looks like he's starting to grasp cause and effect. He definitely is getting easier in some ways. For instance, he will stay in the nursery at church for half an hour to 45 minutes before he starts really fussing. He stayed about an hour with my sister last week, no problem. He no longer screams when I shower. That one's a huge blessing. Mal is perfectly content to hang out and play with his dad.

In fact, Mal is starting to seek James out, and will go to him instead of me at times. Mal says with regularity and specificity, "Da-da," when he sees James. Everything I've read says kids this age repeat syllables and don't attach meaning to them, but it's pretty consistent. (He only says, "Ma-maaaaah!" when he's crying.)

Mal still likes to be held a lot, and isn't a huge fan of being in his walking chair when I'm making dinner, even though we're in the same room. He wants to be held. Ever since I accidentally grazed his leg with a hot cookie sheet, though, I do make sure I'm not holding him whenever I'm using anything hot. However, now that he's very mobile and knows how to maneuver the walker, everything is within his grasp. In this house, with no cabinetry, that means he has access to our entire pantry and most of our cooking pans. Scarier, he could probably pull one of the units over on himself. He's never in the kitchen alone, but all the same, I'll be glad to get somewhere that we can close doors that are part of permanent fixtures!

As for me, I'm almost always tired. I'm almost always sore. Between the bike rides, the walking, the baby-wearing, the carrying, and the sleeping-funny-so-I-can-nurse, I'm just in need of a massage (something that has only become a possibility in the past two weeks or so). Mal is still very much 24/7 in a way that Daphne wasn't at this age, so I rarely feel refreshed and rested... but it's getting easier, if only because I can read him better, and meet his needs better. There is so much less crying now, and so much more laughing. Having a baby is just work, and it's absolutely worth it.

I forgot to add this in to Mal's 6-month update, but wanted to get it in writing to horrify him someday (honestly, I don't expect my kids ever to read my blog unless I die and they're hungry for more of me posthumously): Every time we change his diaper -- EVERY time -- he has to do a manual junk check. "Yep, it's still there. Stttttretchhhh-BOING. Strrreeetchh-- BOING!" Good times. In other words, he's a normal boy. It's just my first time to mom a baby guy, and I think it's adorable. He ends up with baby powder on his hand a lot.

Mal is still sleeping with us. He seriously cannot sleep more than about an hour without waking up to make sure someone's there. It feels like he's nursing a lot more at night than he used to, or maybe it's just that he's not tapering off like I expected he would at this age. But he nurses a lot less frequently during the day, as he's a champ at consuming real food now. I don't feel pressure to nurse him to calm him down in public anymore like I used to. I know we can go three hours or so and if he starts to get fussy, I can distract him with something else, no problem. This means we can go places and do more things, whcih I love.

I'd tried giving Malcolm milk before, and he wasn't impressed. He never took to formula, either, and I tried all of them: dairy, soy, mixed, gentle tummy formula, etc. However, a friend suggested trying cashew milk, and that seems to be the one for the boy. He sucks that stuff down! He also likes pretty much everything we feed him, and I think he's ready for stuff beyond baby food. He had scrambled eggs last week (pictured above), and I'll look to see what we're having this week that he can enjoy without teeth. I also gave him part of a strawberry-banana smoothie we made last week, and he liked it, too.

So here we are in the second half of the first year. This is where it starts getting fun. Finally. :) Glad we made it this far. Excited about the future!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tomy Koala Miniature Village, circa 1980s

When I was younger (much, much younger), I collected some miniatures I believe I got from the now-defunct Coach House Cards and Gifts at Central Mall in Fort Smith, Arkansas. My mom saved them, and for a couple of years, I "lost" them in my daughter's stuff. She's been cleaning out and reorganizing so found them.

My sister had tried to find them online to show her daughter because we have very fond memories of playing with these cool koala minis, but neither of us were able to find their presence on the internet at all... until today.

When I Googled them just now, I found out something I had no idea about! They were called "Busy Bears of Hippity Hollow." What?! Who knew? Well, I guess the 1980s might have known, but I certainly forgot!

Anyway, I took pictures of the miniature village (or should I say "Hippity Hollow"? Um, no. Let's not say that) and decided to post them here for those who might also like a walk down Memory Lane with the toy nostalgia.

Do bears... uh, percolate?

Excuse the blurred finger of my infant son's hand. He mistakenly thought he could play with these. Check back in a couple of years, big guy.

Mmmm! Koala juice!

When I was a young girl, this was probably my favorite. I loved the TV screen and how it distorted what was behind it just a bit.

I guess this does look like a busy community, but I wouldn't call it... you know. It's real name. And not just because I live in Austin, where Hippy Hollow is a nude beach!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How a lazy person alters furniture (down-cycling?)

A couple of years ago, I bought a white three-drawer dresser from a friend. It had see-through panels in the drawer fronts, so in theory would have worked a lot like this:

The only problem is that I don't have neatly-folded linens in my dresser. I have haphazardly-folded baby blankets in one drawer, paper items that should be in a filing cabinet if we had one in another, and I have no idea what is in the bottom drawer.

My thought originally was that I might paint the inside of the panels so that they weren't entirely see-through. Then one of my cats (I'm assuming) cracked a bit of the top panel, and it looked weird.

So then I had this other idea, which I did today. This is how people like me, which is to say someone who has no technical building or redecorating skills, gets things done:

Yep, with Duct Tape. Trust me, it looks better from afar.

Fortunately, I'm not bothered by the bends and air bubbles in the tape. I just don't care. And even though I did these this afternoon, it's true that I still have no idea what's in the bottom drawer. Now that I can't see, I might never know!

I think it looks very room-appropriate with the quilt James' mom made. And, no, sorry, my services are not available to the public. It's quite the miracle I got this done my own self. I know you're all disappointed, but please try not to feel too awful about it. I'm almost certain that you, too, are capable of renovation on this level.

Mal is 6 months old!

Six months ago (and a couple of hours), this little dude was born! (The human one.)

So, here's the mandatory update:

HEIGHT/WEIGHT: We haven't made it to the six-month well check yet, so let's just say that Mal is heavy, and his feet hit my knees when I'm wearing him.

FAVORITE FOOD: newsprint and receipts

LIKES: biking with Mom (until he doesn't); bouncing in his "jungle" or door bouncy (until he doesn't); smiling at people, cats, the back of his sister's head, screen savers, and passers-by to the Nuthaus; the bell rattle that came in his Citrus Lane box, month three; adventures with Dad when Dad gets a notion to wear him on a walk; his Mama!

DISLIKES: peas (and that's saying something because dude will suck on a wet nap); sleeping alone.

FAVORITE SONG: the song of his people. He hums it often; it's in a minor key and frequently has only one note. It is oft-repeated to the point that I often vow to do physical harm to my tympanic membrane so as never to hear it again. 

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: Mal laughs a lot, which we like. He also screams. Not so much with the liking. I'm not sure how to train him out of that. He is delighted by this new-found ability. He can crawl backwards like a pro, and has managed to go forward a couple of times that resembled hard work rather than dumb luck. He has two bottom teeth, just broken through in the last month, even though he's been teething for about three months. I'm pretty sure he knows "da-da" is his dad, even though he patently refuses to call me "ma-ma" or respond when we ask where I am because, seriously, I'm always right there.

Mal will little note nor long remember his first half-year on the planet, but it has altered our family forever. It's been a challenge and a joy. A privilege, and a hard-fought one. This is the part where I think it starts getting fun. I can't wait for the next six months! The next six years, even.

Happy half, Malcolm Khrystopher!


Here's an anecdote I want to remember and hope you find amusing:

I was frosting a cake the other day (first one since he was born!) and had Mal sitting in his high chair while I did it. His dad was amusing him when he'd get fussy about being down so long. At one point, Mal grabbed the empty frosting tub, and I was fine with letting him play with it. Then suddenly we heard easily the happiest noise we've ever heard come out of that baby, and it was then that I realized that there was some frosting around the rim of the tub, Mal had eaten it, and he was sitting there giggling with the cutest, "Heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh heh hehhhh!" James wanted to get a video of that, so grabbed the camera. It seriously tickled us a lot. But then Mal got distracted for two seconds, and I quickly removed the icing tub, because I don't want him getting on the sugar train for a while yet! Sorry I ruined James' video, but boy gotsta eat, and I can't have him holding out for icing. But I get it, little dude, I totally get it. He is definitely my son.

Monday, March 23, 2015

An alternate (morally superior) recipe for Justin's homemade chocolate peanut butter eggs

Okay, now, I want you to know I'm not typically curmudgeonly about most things. But today. Oh, man, today there was a straw and it broke this camel's back, baby.

First, it started with this:

A few weeks ago, Alton Brown posted a recipe for a chocolate cake made with tofu instead of milk (cleverly called "Moo-Less Chocolate Pie"). It looks delicious! I'd love to make one soon, and I have no aversion to dairy; I just like stuff like this. However, from some of the comments, you'd think he murdered a person's grandma.

"I almost ended up in the hospital because someone tried to “trick” be with black bean brownies. I have a host of odd allergies including most leagues (sic), black beans and soy included." He's so allergic to "legumes" that he can't even spell them!

A lot of the comments were like that. And I'm not trying to minimize food allergies; I get that some are fatal. But here's the deal: I do not believe for one moment that AB is out on the street surreptitiously handing out pie to unsuspecting by-passers. My guess is that he knows who he's feeding. Besides, if I had a soy allergy, I'd be SUPER careful about everything I put in my maw, because I think more stuff has soy than gluten, and when it's everywhere, you have to be very careful.

So, if AB has a dinner party, I'm almost certain that he asks if there are any allergies or aversions and honors those. If no one says they're allergic to soy, then they probably get the pie.

Oh, and if you *do* have a food allergy and I ask about it, you might need to elaborate. For instance, a few years ago, if I'd asked about this and you'd said you had a latex allergy, I would only have made sure I didn't wear gloves when preparing the meal (who knew there even *was* such a thing as cross-reactive food?!).

Then a friend posted this, and it's very funny (and perhaps offensive to you if you're humor-challenged about this kind of thing).

But today.

Today, this one got me.

Three days ago, Justin's made this post on Facebook:

Well hello, Spring! Has anyone ever succeeded in balancing an egg on the equinox? Today, I'm attempting it with this PB egg. Most delicious experiment ever. #peanutbutter #spring #equinox

Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs:
Melt 1/2 Cup Honey Peanut Butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Whisk in 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar and stir until fully combined. Form PB mixture into egg shapes and freeze for 20 minutes. Dip PB eggs into melted dark, milk or white chocolate and refrigerate 15 minutes or until chocolate has set. Enjoy!

Well, fun, right? No. Awwww, heck, naw.

"microwave... are you kidding me...makes me wonder about your products quality that I have been buying for years. NO nuke the food!" "Oh Justins's. That "all natural" goes to shit the moment you mention a microwave."

Um... and, wow. There was another one. But it's been deleted. I think it was deleted because, well, I'm not proud of this, but I trolled a little bit. The comment said, "Can you please post a version of this recipe that does not use the microwave?" Now, some very nice/helpful person (mentally healthy) gave instructions about using a double-boiler and melting it the way you'd melt chocolate, then the original poster thanked her. I might. not. have. been very Christlike in my follow-up. I *might* have said something like, "Seriously? Then use the stove. You could leave it out on the porch if you live in the south."

Now, before we judge me too harshly (like I judged that person), realize where I'm coming from: If you've committed your life to avoiding the very microwaves that 90% of people who can afford to have a microwave oven use every day, then I expect YOU to be the expert on how to get around using it. I mean, it's not like you just stopped using the "nuker" (that's not how it works) yesterday and haven't figured out what else to do. You don't use one, right? So YOU should have the tips and tricks, man.

Regardless, that's deleted now.

And I feel bad.

Sort of.

Mostly because it was ridiculous, and if she genuinely didn't know and wanted to know, she should have left it up instead of cowering beneath my virtual glare.

But I am ready to do penance! How? By making a more friendly, natural PB egg recipe. Here it is, anonymous user who deleted your condescending question:

Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs:
Harvest 3 Tablespoons honey from your beehive. Thank the bees by doing a gratefulness dance that mimics their "here's pollen" dance, but not so closely that it tricks them because that would be mean. Process peanuts into butter either at the store or at home. Put it into a Mason jar that has already been used once and will be used again after this time. If you are male, place the mason jar just below the waist of your drawers, and if you're a lady, put it between your girls. Do this long enough that the peanut butter is soft and stirable. You might want to wear an 8 x 11.5 inch sign on your front and back that says "packing peanuts" so that people with allergies can avoid you. They might think you're referring to the environmentally devastating styrofoam, so add "like Snickers" underneath, and maybe that will help avoid a lecture. Take 1/2 cup sugar in the raw and process it in your solar-powered blender until it is powdery. Add 1 Tablespoon cream of tartar left over from your wine-making to the sugar, then whisk it in with the peanut butter and honey stir until fully combined. Form PB mixture into egg shapes and store it overnight in one of the passive cooling systems described here (which you have already built; you're really supposed to read the WHOLE recipe first, you know). While you're waiting, pick some chocolate that is Fair Trade. All kidding aside, ripping poor people off so you can get your chocolate fix isn't cool. Dip PB eggs into melted dark, milk or white chocolate and refrigerate overnight or until the chocolate has set.

Okay. So hopefully we're square now.

Do you feel better? I feel better. If you don't then watch this, and afterwards we'll ALL feel much happier. And, maybe. Maybe I might be crying. How can we be mad when there's this?

Friday, March 20, 2015

"You keep using that word..."

If I told you I'd been to the Samaritan Outpost here in town, where would you think I'd been? You might not know for sure, but you might assume something like a charitable organization or a medical clinic or something to help people, right?

According to the dictionary, "Samaritan" means "a charitable or helpful person (with reference to Luke 10:33)." But I think it only means that due to usage, similarly to how "literally" now means "in effect" or "virtually." Which is to say, that doesn't mean it's very precise.

Luke 10 contains a story about a Samaritan, true. But there is a qualifier. He was a "good" Samaritan. A Samaritan is actually "a member of a people inhabiting Samaria in biblical times, or of the modern community in the region of Nablus claiming descent from them, adhering to a form of Judaism accepting only its own ancient version of the Pentateuch as Scripture." It is also an adjective referring to someone from Samaria.

Using "Samaritan" to indicate someone or something charitable seems to me like naming all of the math tutoring centers "Chinese" and expecting that we'll all get what it means because, come on, right?

Another Bible thing the Christian vernacular has co-opted is "prodigal." It actually means "spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant." We use it to mean "back-slid" or "hopefully temporarily unrepentant" or "having strayed from the faith of one's youth."

"God is calling the person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way, come without delay..."

Hey, it rhymes!

What else? Are there other terms from the Bible that we have made to mean something that, outside the context of the Bible, doesn't actually make sense?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

But I'm not philosophically an attachment parent!

Last week, I posted a link to this article on my Facebook timeline. What resonated with me was this: "...if you dare complain how exhausted and crappy you are feeling, you are sure to get the same old answer: “you need to do ‘sleep training.'"

She goes on to explain how you don't "learn" to sleep the same way you learn to do things like ride a bike or play a piano, but at this point I'd say that trying to make Mal "learn" how to sleep on his own would be about as productive as trying to make him learn how to ride a bike. For whatever reason, he's not developmentally ready. I get that a lot of 6-month-olds are. He's not.

This isn't my first rodeo. My daughter slept mostly through the night from about 2 months on, except for one waking feeding jag that I had to wean her of at 9 months. She did *not* like that. But I was confident that her crying and displeasure was just her being ticked off, not genuinely harmed. There is a difference, and as my kids' mom, I can tell what it is.

For reasons I don't know or understand, Mal cannot go to sleep on his own. He cannot stay asleep on his own. He is getting worse about this, not better, as he approaches genuine separation anxiety. He needs me there. He wakes up and checks, and if I'm not within reach, he is inconsolable.

"Just let him cry until he wears himself out."

He has the capacity and tenacity to cry at increasing levels of hysterics for half an hour; maybe more, but I haven't tested. Anymore, every once in a while when I can tell he's super exhausted and is even crying and fighting me when I hold him, I'll put him in his crib so he can tire himself out a bit I'd love it if he'd tire himself out to sleep, but he doesn't. And after about 15-20 minutes, I go get him. Typically, he'll nurse to sleep in about 2 minutes after that.

Why do I go get him?

After a few minutes, this is what his bed looks like. He cries, spreading snot and tears all over the bed while he flails, rolls over, backs into the corner of the bed, pinning his legs behind him. He builds anxiety by crying (some babies release it). He needs help.

So I do what works.

Mal needs a nap about 2 hours after he wakes up in the morning. He won't go to sleep on his own, but gets really fussy. Typically, my teenager is still asleep. I can let Mal fuss on his own for hours, stressing myself and Daphne, or I can wear him, he'll conk out, and I can get some stuff done.

He needs another nap around 1:00-1:30. A lot of times, this is when I choose to run errands so he'll fall asleep in the car seat and maybe stay asleep when I get home and I can get some stuff done.

He needs a third nap (again, most kids his age are down to two daytime naps; he's not "most") around 4:30, and I sit down on the couch for that one, haul my ancient laptop or a favorite book, and hunker down because he'll sometimes sleep two hours. I try to have dinner mostly put together at that point, so if James gets home, he can make a plate and eat.

Here's the deal: Do I wish Mal would fall asleep (in his crib, on the couch, or even in the middle of the kitchen floor) so I could hot-roll my hair or really decorate a cake? YES. Am I going to try to force him to do something that, as the person who is with him the most, I know with all of my heart he is not able to do yet because I'm periodically exhausted? I can't. I don't feel like it's right or ethical or kind. Does this choice of mine mean that I have relinquished the right to complain (sometimes joking, sometimes seriously) about being weary? Some people seem to think so.

We do what works. What works isn't always easy. It isn't always ideal. It doesn't always make sense to people who aren't living my life. I promise you, I have had opinions about people who sleep with their babies and won't put them down. That was before this baby. That was before this lifetime.

My son is a joy, and a pleasure, and a challenge, and all of the things most kids are. They're a lot alike, but they're so different, too. There should be grace in each family's coping with the lives, personalities, and abilities they have been given. Don't you think?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: Plum Organics baby food, adult food, and website ordering

Friends and family members are making their own baby food, and talk about how easy and cost-effective it is. I believe them. But I'm tired. So I buy baby food. I reason that the boy won't be eating baby food for long (two teeth down, two more to go before he can get his chew on), and we don't have much room in the freezer to store what I'd make (I know, I know... it's not big). Also, we don't have anything appropriate for making baby food. I've tried with the food processor, but I'd have to make like 50 servings of carrots for it to work, and I'm afraid of freezer burn or the baby hating carrots after consuming that many.

Sounding defensive, huh? Well how about this: I love some of the choices that are out there. For Mal's "at home" food, I tend to stick with the Gerber food in plastic little tubs because it works out to about $.50 per tub, and that will typically last him 1.3 meals (he doesn't usually eat a whole one at breakfast, but will at dinner)... plus, some of the mixtures are awesome. Today, he had pear, zucchini, and corn. I like introducing him to a wide variety of flavors.

When we're out and about, it's easier to use pouches. They're more pricey, but I don't have to take a spoon. On vacation, we learned that the downside of eating out of a pouch for a week is that he gets super impatient with a spoon, since we have to "reload." He prefers to suck his food down all at once, even if that means backing up some of it on his face and chest, and being finished in 3 minutes.

Thus, we reserve pouches for visiting friends and eating in restaurants. My favorites are Plum Organics. I also like their "puffs" and teething biscuits (which, for "no mess" products are ridiculously difficult to clean up), and so does the boy.

I signed up for their email club to get coupons, and got a buy-one/get-one free which I used immediately. Then they sent me a coupon code for some money off of a new product they just released: pureed mixes for adults!

When I was expecting my teenager, I ate baby food because I wanted unsweetened apple sauce, but back in 2001, they didn't have apple sauce mixed with other fruits... except in baby food. Now, here are these things! I ordered two of everything they had, because I loved the idea.

Today, I tried the pear, kale, spinach, celery mix, and it was extremely refreshing. It has only 70 calories, and did a good job tiding me over between breakfast and the late (2:00 PM) lunch we were having with friends. I wasn't hungry until we got there, and I wasn't so full that I couldn't eat. I'm really excited to try the pineapple, carrot, mint but may keep that for last. Tomorrow, we'll move on to the cherry, berry, beet, and ginger.

While I was at the site, I ordered a few things for the boy child. Several of them, he has had before. Others, we're treading on new territory here.

He has eaten the sweet potato, mango, and millet, and really liked it. Also, for you cloth-diaper moms: so far, the food we've given him that has any kind of grain mixed in has resulted in well-formed (read: easily dumped) BumGenius filling. I appreciate that.

Today, Mal tried the pumpin, dates, oats, and chia. He loved it, judging by how quickly he sucked it down. I tried it, too; I try everything he eats, because if it's icky, I don't want to force it on him. It was a little sweeter than most of the veggie mixes he's had so far, and the chia is indiscernible, texture-wise. It actually reminded me a lot of pumpkin pie. Very nice.

Also, to try to remedy the rapid consummation of the food, I purchased these:

You screw it onto the top of the pouch, so you can spoon feed the food instead of having the baby slorp it all up. Well, that's the theory, anyway. In practice, the food squeezes out at the back of the spoon, and if you try to fill it up so it will push forward, the spoon wants instead to overflow at the back part of the spoon. When I feed Mal his regular food, I only put it on about 1/3 to 1/2 of the front of the spoon; otherwise, he makes a royal mess. We tried this for about three bites before it was more out of control than just letting him cram the plastic straw into his maw and go for it that way. Disappointing.

We haven't tired either of these yet, but Mal has liked the Chobani Greek yogurt with mango and spinach, so I have high hopes.

The thing about which I am most excited, though (apart from my own pouches of delicious mixes), is this:

It's their World Baby mixes, and I am super excited about exposing Mal to flavors he might not otherwise get until he can eat "real" food with us. If I were making his food at home, we could possibly end up with the Mexican and Italian varieties, but I doubt he'd ever eat lentils and roasted squash with apricots as a puree around here.

Looking around the website at Plum Organics, they have some neat kids' stuff, too. Next time I order, I want to try the Jammy Sammy (maybe all 4 varieties!) and the Go Bar because I know I'd like them, but I'm pretty sure my teenager would, too.

I received my order in just under a week, and shipping was a reasonable $7.99 for everything that I ordered. It's an indulgence, to be sure, and I won't be doing it every week, but maybe monthly we can find it in our food budget to get restock on the Plum Organics!

Also, if you join Club Plum, you get $10 off and free shipping on an order! Score! Now I'll try to be patient until we consume all of this stuff before ordering again...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Procrastination of the most romantic sort

In August 2013, I came up with some lyrics to a love song I thought it'd be neat to produce for James for our first anniversary. Well, guess what? I never did it. BUT I found the lyrics when I was looking for something else, and I thought I'd share them with you, because, trust me, you need this kind of thing in your life. Get some tissues ready.

Bee tee dubs, this was in response to the phrase, "I love you to the moon and back," which I have since learned is from a book, and I read that book, and in context, it's touching enough, but come on with the competitiveness, mom! (If I'm remembering correctly.)

And now, the song:

Some people love to the moon and back
But that's not good enough
A lunar love will never do
Our love has the right stuff

To boldly go where none has gone
To strange new worlds and such
So when I tell you of my love
You need to know how much

I love you to Uranus
And we're never coming back
We'll hold our love together
Even if it starts to crack

A black hole's pull is not enough
To stop us or contain us
We're both in this together
And I love you to Uranus

Our love is no mere gas giant
As anyone can see
I'll hold you 'till forever
They can't take the sky from me

And Milky Ways are tasty
But they're here and then they're gone
Well, even after supernova
You and I go on

Yes, I love you to Uranus
And we're never coming back
We'll hold our love together
Even if it starts to crack

A black hole's pull is not enough
To stop us or contain us
We're both in this together
And I love you to Uranus

We're closer that Luke and Leia
We're closer than Leia and Han
We're closer than Han and Chewy
Our love goes on and on
(19.2 Atronomical Units, to be precise)

I love you to Uranus
Uranus is the place for me
We'll orbit side-by-side
'Cause that's the way that it should be

I'll never leave you blue
I'll not revoke your planethood
I love you to Uranus
Where our love is always good

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Are Angels Entertaining Us?

I've posted a bit on here and Facebook about the homeless people with whom we come into contact. They are frequent and alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) heart-breaking and entertaining.

We also just see a lot of people by virtue of the fact that we are on a well-worn thoroughfare and people walk past the house to get to Taco Cabana, Chick-fil-A, and Jimmy Johns during the weekday lunch hours.

Lots of people (office workers and the down-and-out) walk by and see Mal, stop, and coo over him for a bit. I feel like he's some sort of cosmic Welcome Wagon that makes everyone feel a little better about their day (see "He's Such a Happy Baby!"), and love sitting out on the front porch with him.

A couple of people have suggested that we occasionally entertain angels, because people will show up, then mysteriously disappear (like in moments, not months like the crochet guy). This makes me laugh sometimes, because typically one of them will show up a few days later, burnt out of his gourd, and the thought of a hammered heavenly being is somewhat amusing to me. Flying, indeed.

One day, a gentleman who wasn't overtly homeless (transient? shelter? just fastidious about his cleanliness?) or professionally-employed stopped and said, "You have a blessin' from God right there." I agreed. Mal smiled at him, and, of course, it made his day. He said, "I have three packets of that..." he gestured, trying to think, "...those things. The wipes. You live here?" I told him that I did. He said, "I'm going to bring you one. I'll leave it on your porch."

I smiled and thanked him, but didn't expect anything.

About a week later, James had gone out to the trash and came back with this.

It made me smile, and it was humbling. Very often, after I talk to the people who walk past, I'm pretty sure they remember none of it. Some of them are in altered states. Some of them just have mental problems. Some are probably too focused on survival to think of me, and our baby, and where we live, and remember to bring us something.

Then, a week or so later, James brought this in from the front porch.

So, for all I know, we now have every single one of this gentleman's wipe collection. Here's something I've learned: Nothing else gets hardening teething biscuit goo off of my child (and table) like these wet wipes! Mal even loves sucking on them (before I catch him), even though they taste like medicine. I guess when you teeth hurt, you're desperate.

Once again, the thought of this man taking the time and effort to give us something when we have no genuine need but he likely does just hit me and made me grateful to God for the grace of his people.

Then, this morning...

Mal wasn't fully awake, but he was soaking wet. I got him up and changed him, then set about the morning tasks. I opened the blinds and saw this:

It's pears, pears and raspberries, sweet potatoes, carrots, and, of course, Jell-o cups. In all honesty, I will probably pass on the Jell-o cups. But the baby food is fully sealed, and it's the good stuff! This one, people, made me cry. I imagine a charity hand-out situation, and this man, thinking of Mal, and grabbing what he can, and passing it along.

This week, my family has seen God's protection and provision in a big way (more on that later), but sometimes the sweetest reminders can be the little things. This is definitely one of them. And maybe the angels are entertaining us.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Updates on everything!

Good Wednesday morning, people!

First up, I combined my two blogs, so this is the place for all of the action from here on out. If you're new to The Gatannah Files, welcome.

There is a lot going on with Team Dave's, and so I'll just start somewhere in the middle and we'll work our way out to everything eventually (as time will allow... meaning "as long as the child sleeps").

We terminated our offer contract on the weird-o house. Weird is good. $5500 in roof repairs (not replacement, guys, REPAIRS), $5000 to rebuild ducts and blow in some functioning insulation, plus the $7000 to replace the 15-year-old A/C/furnace, and however much to rewire the outlets so that they actually have, you know, ground wires, and then replacing the 15-year-old water heater, etc. etc. etc. was not okay.

We put in an offer on what was truly my dream house (even though they had no pantry) Saturday. It was in the neighborhood that is my favorite, near a park, near where we want to send Mal to school, near my sister, garden in the back yard, compost already set up, nice yard for mowing work-out, etc.

It was heart-breaking. I felt like God had saved us just for this house, but in the end, the sellers actually went with a lower bid that wasn't a VA loan. They said they were afraid the appraisal would come in under sales price, and we agreed to make up the difference to a certain amount if that were the case, but our loan officer said that has only happened twice that he can remember, and the second one is under review right now. He said the VA scares people because they think they're practically going to have to rebuilt their house before the loan will be approved. Not true. And so we journey onward.

Sort of.

James was looking at houses later that night, but I seriously felt like someone I loved had broken up with me, and I wasn't in the mood to browse OK Cupid. *sigh* Boys.

We're looking at several houses this weekend that are way out of town, and this will change a lot of things for us. Most important is James' commute, and everything else we can figure out once we shake down.

In the baby department, Mal is almost six months old. He has two teeth and is babbling up a storm. He has outgrown his colic and tends to be in a great mood when he's not in toothing pain or overly tired or not being held and unhappy about that.

Although he continues not to sleep except when in our bed or being held, I'm developing coping mechanisms. For instance, yesterday I colored my hair for the first time with no one at home to watch the baby. I got some dye on the back of his shirt, he screamed the entire time I was in the shower (even though he was literally just on the other side of the curtain), and I realize today that the color somehow didn't take in the middle of my hair (like roots are done, ends are done, and somehow the middle isn't; oh well, it'll wash out eventually and be even). So it's not perfect, but it works.

Also, I've realized that if I put Mal to sleep (read: nurse him) in our bed, I can get up and get some things done before turning in myself. This works especially well if James (or a cat) is already in bed.

Obligatory cute baby picture. Here, he's wearing a sweater gown that was his dad's.

Daphne... well, this week it was like a time machine. Daphne was me at her age, and "Gravity Falls" was "Scarecrow and Mrs. King." There was a new episode that was set to live-stream, and she managed to get into the stream early in the evening (they were showing the episodes leading up to the new one.) She warned me two hours before it came on that if James got home late, she might "rush through dinner," and later, when I was listening to internet radio. asked if I'd mind not playing anything out loud during the half hour her show was on. "Not now. But at 7:30."

She did wolf down her dinner "because I was hungry, and because I'm amped," then she excused herself. She watched the show pretty much in silence, then at the very end, when a big reveal was presented, she laugh/sobbed for about 5 minutes. She was shaking and typing frantically. I was a little jealous that she had a whole internet full of Tumblrers who were also excited and she got to share that moment with other fans. It was always just me at my computer after "Scarecrow and Mrs. King," literally typing up as much of the script as I could remember, since this was like 3 years before we got a VCR. And ten years before we had CompuServe. And I don't think there were any listservs or news boards dedicated to fantasy dramas at that point, anyway.

Memories. Good times.

Today, for the first time in three months, I saw the crochet guy! I'm glad he's back around. I was heading home carrying 2 24" x 36" canvas prints, 2 11" x 8" prints, and a bag from CVS (I was in denial about their size when I picked them up, but not after the half mile walk home), but can't wait to talk to him about what's going on with him.

I was thinking the other day about things on which I have wasted money in the past year. They include: a baby swing; a bouncy seat; any clothes I've bought for Daphne without vetting them out with her, and several that I have; another baby swing; a crib (so far... although the cats really enjoy it and it does convert to a toddler and then day bed, so maybe there's hope?); a bunch of new shirts that I loved on Zulily but didn't think about the fact that I'd be nursing for who knows how long. There is probably more, but that represents a lot of moolah.

Okay, I think that's most of the catching up we have to do. Until we meet again...

Monday, March 2, 2015

The thing about vulnerability...

Mal is five months old now and so much is awesome about him... but right now, I am discouraged, He is healthy. He is often hysterically happy. He makes us (James and me) laugh a lot. But he continues to be very, very demanding of my time and attention and I am weary.

"But of course he does!" you say. "He's a baby!"

No, I had another baby before this. I was not still strategizing my showers at this point. I was able to fix my hair. I could put on make-up other than when I was driving. I could make cinnamon rolls.

Mal's inability to sleep when he's down or alone is exhausting. I prioritize sitting because I know he needs sleep or he wouldn't be asleep, but I think of all I need to be doing and it stresses me out that I can't take care of these things when he's napping. He naps about 3 times a day, for 20 minutes to 2 hours. That's a lot of sitting for me. The only break I get is if he falls asleep in the car seat when we're out, and then I can usually buy 5 minutes to an hour.

So I first of all repent. I repent of the times I clucked my tongue at a mom "letting herself go." Or judged the BSF moms who never got their lessons done because, come on, we all have 24 hours in a day and it's just not that hard. Or developed a complete opinion of someone based on the fact that they shared a bed with their baby. I truly had no idea that a baby could be so needy for so long, and I am humbled.

There's this thing, though... I want to reach out. I want to ask for prayer. I want to stop crying at the drop of a hat and of being on the verge of a meltdown pretty much every second of every day. I love that my friends will do this for me. But there's another contingency of people who will add to their promise to pray with advice.

Well-meaning, but exhausting.

"You just have to..." they start out, often suggesting things I've tried that haven't worked for us. And often sounding so simple that you'd really have to be a dunderhead not to have it be successful for you. And it makes the stress WORSE.

"Moms have to take care of themselves first, or they can't take care of their families."

Sort of, yeah. But for a long stretch of time, that's proven impossible for me. Except for stress-eating. I'm doing that. That's how I'm taking care of me, I suppose. It's not horribly healthy, is it?

I'm leaving Mal alone in the church nursery. He has made it for half an hour twice. I don't really care to go anywhere for half an hour, so leaving him at home with someone (other than my sister) isn't an option.

This is where people say, "At some point, he's just going to have to cry."

Well, here's the deal: He's my kid, and I know him. I'm so much better at reading what he needs and wants, but there are some cries that are just absolute misery, and he's not going to calm down without me (and sometimes, he's not going to calm down with me). He gets a scared look in his eyes like "Why is this happening?" and I'm not going to leave him to deal with that alone until he's trained not to show his emotion.

There is a difference in fussiness and hysterics. I will often lay him down in his crib when he's fussy and I can't soothe him; very often, he'll calm down a bit... but never -- except that once a month ago -- go to sleep. At some point, he'll start realizing I'm not planning to come back, and he gets upset. VERY upset. Like, screaming, hyperventilating, rolling over and backing into the crib slats, getting his legs stuck awkwardly fits. The good part about this is that he usually manages to clear out his nasal congestion, very often all over his face or sheets. But that's one less thing for me to do, I suppose.

Anyway, this is all very defensive, and it's my point.

When well-meaning people give well-meaning advice, it can still put me on the defensive. I promise you, I'm trying a little bit of everything. My mom's heart and intuition tells me to keep doing what we're doing. I can only lie him down when he's sleeping and have him wake up instantly about 2-3 times before it makes me crazy, and I just have to hold him and let him get the rest he needs so he doesn't drive me crazy fussing from tiredness the rest of the day.

But the fact that I am pretty confident that we're on the right course with Mal does not lessen the stress of the moment. I don't know how much longer it's going to be like this. Forever? I cannot imagine how parents of special (constant) needs kids do it, especially if they already have children. Maybe he'll outgrow all of this when he's a year old. Or two. But I don't know. So even though I feel like we're doing the best we can for him and for us, I am deeply saddened by the fact that the rest of my family has to suffer with less attentive care (James is pretty okay with it; Daphne is another story). I am sad that I don't look "shiny" like I do in older pictures. I'm sad that I can't bake, or buy my own groceries, or clean my own house. I'm discouraged that I often wait hours from the first time I realize I need to use the restroom until I actually go. And this is not a matter of not wanting Mal to cry; it's a matter of his being asleep and my knowing he needs a full nap, so I dare not move lest he wake up.

Even moving into the kitchen to write this (with him on my lap on the nursing pillow), I had to get up from his floor, where I had been nursing him until my back started hurting, and he woke up and screamed and shook (he has a wonky little underdeveloped nervous system) until I was able to nurse him again and put him back to sleep.

Yesterday, I was talking to Daphne about this and told her that it's difficult, but probably the true way to look at things: We've talked before about how it seems like once you get all comfy in your life, things change. I told her that God doesn't necessarily want us to be "comfortable," as much as he wants us to be happy and fulfilled in him. I said that as taxing, exhausting, and even, yes, downright annoying as she might find her little brother, every time we start to get too stressed out, we have the choice to feed the part that says, "OMG, I can't even," or to choose to love a person who obviously needs more love and attention than other people do.

I firmly believe that God is using Mal to further smooth out my rough edges. And, dude, do I have them. With all of that in mind, I'd appreciate your prayers for me, my awesome husband, my sweet tired adolescent, and my teething buddy. And I'd appreciate it if you otherwise kept your mouth shut. :)