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Friday, July 31, 2015

My Opinions on Things About Which NO ONE Will Care

Okay, people. I'm going to set the record straight about a few things, because it's either this or burn social media to the ground... and I don't know how to do that.

Here's the deal: We all have opinions (and these are mine). They're not all valid, but they're our right to have. However, sometimes, corporate "opinions" (often in the form of "infographics" or "memes") become so overwhelmingly prevalent, that it's just too much for this lady to handle.

Also, please excuse the curmudgeonly tone of this entry. I'm just starting a fun new lady cycle, and I also have a clogged lady duct, and though many of my male readers might think it's a fantasy come true to stay home all day playing with a boob, I can assure you that this has not been an enjoyable day.

Onward and... downward.

1. PEOPLE'S BEING MAD ABOUT A LION GETTING POINTLESSLY SHOT DOESN'T TAKE AWAY FROM ANY OTHER "LEGITIMATE" ISSUE. Firstly, because people are mostly mad online, which is the laziest form of anger. Secondly, I can be mad about animal cruelty (or behavior unbecoming someone claiming to be a sportsman) and still be even more angry about many other things. So. Many. "Causes." have been posting stuff all week to the tune of: "Oh, you can dismember and sell unborn babies but you can't kill a lion?" and "We're burning up the media with lion news, but we're not supposed to Tweet #blacklivesmatter?" Listen, keep fighting those fights. I promise you, people's upset about the slaughter of a big cat isn't taking away from anything else.

2. PLEASE, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY STOP POSTING CRAP ABOUT SOFT DRINKS. Guess what? It's 2015. No one thinks sodas are healthy. No one is deluded into thinking that drinking sugary, nutritionally-deficient beverages are a positive thing for the old human body, the same way no one thinks that eating cake is going to produce rock-hard abs and better heart health. But, like alcohol and unlike cigarettes, in moderation, having a soda every once in a while might be a lifestyle choice that makes people *happy*. So please shut up.

The graphic making the rounds this week was a re-do of a re-do of a re-do of a thing produced 10 years ago (even though this article, which addresses that damned "info"graphic with SCIENCE, says it was from 2010), and it's just not news.

3. IF YOUR "NEWS" ITEM REFERS TO ANY ELECTED (OR APPOINTED OFFICIAL) BY A DISRESPECTFUL NICKNAME, GO FIND A MORE LEGITIMATE SOURCE OR DON'T SHARE. Maybe you have a right to be ticked off about this or that, but when your article comes from a URL that's loaded with bias or a site that refers to people as "President Poopy Pants" or "Secretary Stick-Up-Butt" or whatever... Dude, that's just rude. And we wonder why our kids don't have any respect? If you can't disagree with someone without slinging playground epithets at them, then your point is invalid. If you can't find someone who agrees with your point who can articulate it without the same, then all of you need to find a better point of view.

4. TAKE TWO MINUTES TO FIND THE ORIGINAL SOURCE AND LINK TO THAT SO THAT THE ORIGINAL CREATOR CAN GET INTERNET CRED, MAN! Once a video or picture goes "viral," other people start posting it all over the place. This week, someone posted to his Facebook business's page a video from YouTube that had gone viral the week before. People on Facebook discovered the FB video and shared it, which means that reposter got the clicks that belonged to the original creator of the video, not to him. The original video is awesome, and it's here, if you want to click on it and give the girl her props. I was going to link to the re-poster's site, but realized that it auto plays and so nope. No click-throughs for him.

This applies also to BuzzFeed, Hello Giggles, Bored Panda, Upworthy, FaithIt, and any number of sites who then post the links to social media promising one of several things: It will make you cry, you won't believe it, your faith in mankind will be restored, or your head will explode in a firework of ennui. If you must click on clickbait, STOP THE VIDEO before it starts and click on it so it opens up in YouTube and the person who made it gets credit.

Speaking of which, HOW CAN I GET A JOB FINDING VIDEOS I THINK ARE COOL AND SHARING THEM AND GETTING PAID CASH MONEY FOR IT?! (I'm practicing with the all caps writing; that seems to be a thing.)

5. THINK THROUGH THINGS BEFORE YOU POST MEAN-SPIRITED "JOKES" AND MEMES. Especially, I'll add, if you claim to love Jesus. But, really, even if you don't and you want to be a friend to anyone in your social media circle, think it through.

Oh my gosh, were you so sick of Caitlyn Jenner and this generation's freaks (although, really, she's pretty old; like, older than I am; like, closer to my parents' generation) that you felt better posting the picture of a cat that said, "Caitlyn Jenner's dog"? Whoo, good times.

Except what if a friend of yours has a kid struggling with gender identity? I know it seems pretty stupid to those of us who are cisgender. I mean, I'm a girl, right? What's there to "decide"? Guess what else? I've NEVER struggled with an alcohol addiction. I can drink or I can not drink; I really don't care. I leave it way more than I take it, and it's nothing to me. So, come on, "alcoholism" isn't really an illness. It's just someone's poor choices and they should deal with it right. Like I do.

Sounds pretty insensitive, right?

Imagine your very best friend has this secret, and it's hurting his heart: His daughter doesn't "feel" female, and this whole thing is very foreign to him. He doesn't want to feel ashamed, of his parenting or of his kid, but you posted that stupid meme, and basically said, "I am not a safe person! I have nothing for you but judgment and mockery!" Is that what you want to say to your best friend? It's easy for us to think, "Well, no, I mean, if it happened to someone near me, of course..." so why not start practicing empathy and thoughtfulness NOW?

I don't think anyone going through anything like this is having a great time. There might be some "celebration" once they've been through a struggle and come out the other side. But I've heard several times recently, "It's just so sad; when a kid 'comes out,' 'they' are so welcoming..." Well, if you don't like it, then GIVE THEM OTHER WELCOMING OPTIONS.

6. FINALLY, PEOPLE OF ALL POLITICAL LEANINGS HAVE SNARKY OPINIONS, BUT THE CATTIEST, UGLIEST THINGS I SEE TEND TO BE POSTED BY SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES. You guys, I'm not kidding. Calling people with opposite views "idiots," and just outright jeering and poisonous attitudes. I remember when the Bush II administration was winding down and liberals were celebrating, all of these same people were just horrified by the lack of respect and the downright meanness of the comedians, democrats, etc. Well, you guys have proven you can be just as bad, and even worse. And a lot of you are Christians, which is the part that embarrasses me. I mean, I can be a jerk. I'm probably being a jerk now. But I try not to be just hateful and dismissive of other people. Let's raise the bar a little bit.

So... my duct cleared, and my mind is clear, and I'm done. Let's keep it clean, people. Thanks.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Modkat Litter Box (after a month of owning three)

When we moved, we bought new litter boxes. We have three. In the Nuthaus, they were in the bathroom, our bedroom, and the unused fireplace (with half a curtain hanging in front of it for privacy and looks). Fortunately, here at Vogelfutter we have been able to move two of them to the bathrooms (one in a closet) and one in the laundry room.

Let me explain what my life looked like during the past few months at the Nuthaus: We had three covered/lidded litter boxes, with swinging doors for the cats' entries. One of our cats thought she had a UTI, and thus behaved as though she did (this is a thing cats can do; like, she was diagnosed with what's basically hypochondria, but cats can actually make themselves really sick, and she was even bleeding a little bit, but there was no physical reason). She was visiting the litter boxes 30+ times per day, often in rapid succession, one after another.

When I woke up, I'd have to sweep the bathroom floor before I could use the restroom, because Mal would want to crawl around and there was litter everywhere. Much of the time when I was... doing my business... I'd have to be REALLY exaggerated in making faces and saying, "Ewww! Don't put your hand in there! It's DIRTY! That's where the cats poop! YUCK!" Unfortunately, this typically backfired, as Mal thought it was hysterical and would reach inside, anyway.

We'd go into Mal's room, and there would be cat litter on the crib mattress, as that's a favorite resting spot for the kittehs. So I'd swipe that off and have to sweep his floor, too.

Later, when Mal bored with playing in his room after diaper change, he'd crawl back to our room to make sure his dad got up in time for work. I'd have to run in there and sweep our room so he wouldn't track through the litter.

Then, during the day, I'd sweep the whole house at least once, and the areas around the litter boxes two or three additional times. And I'd vacuum.

There was litter on the mantel, the coffee table, the bookshelves, and window sills.

It felt like a constant battle, and I was exhausted. I hated the cats. I wanted them to disappear.

Then there was that Mal liked to pull up on the litter boxes, and they were filthy. They all had filters in the top, to keep the smell from getting out, but that meant that there were lots of nooks and crannies where dust and old litter and cat hair could collect. We cleaned them regularly, but they always looked dusty and were dirty. Also, Mal sometimes decided that banging on the top wasn't enough, and he'd reach in, like that punch game on "The Price is Right."

I don't think he ever retrieved a treasure, but it was just a battle to try to keep his hands out of that stuff! (I guess it looks a lot like a sand box with which he *could* play, now that I ponder it.)

So.

Before we moved, we looked at the Modkat Litter Box.

You can see all of the features on the website, so I won't do a repeat here. Also, you might notice that right now the boxes are on sale for the low low price of $171! Now, when we bought them, they were the full $180.

No, we're not suckers.

Yes, we asked ourselves, "Is anything worth spending almost $600 on litter management?"

Then James asked me something, and in the throes of dealing with this, I did not hesitate with an affirmative answer: "Over the next two years, will it be worth it not to have to fight Mal?"

And we went for it.




We've been here just over a month. What do I think?

First, let me tell you what we did:

1) We didn't get black. The black boxes look so sleek, but one of the reviews I read said that even "dust-free" cat litter left dust on the plastic, making it look dirty. I got one red, figuring that if it looked janky, I could move it into the laundry room. Actually, you can see a thin film of dust on it, but it's not too noticeable, and I like how it looks in our bathroom. But white looks the nicest.

2) We made a commitment to clean out the boxes every day. I just did all three, and it took 3.5 minutes, including the time it took me to get a second bag because the first one was torn. So we're looking at spending half an hour or so a week on scooping out the boxes. BONUS...

3) Since we clean out every day, there aren't huge messes, and we haven't had to dump and refill yet. We top off every week or so, but I bought a 42-pound bag of litter before we moved in, filled each box, and we've been topping off... and we still have about 1/3 of the bag left. I was buying 14-17 pounds of cat litter EVERY WEEK because we were emptying it and starting over every weekend.

4) We use Fresh Step Multi-Cat. I hate clay litter. I love pine litter. However, when we lived in the trailer, we had awful fruit flies with the pine. Apparently, that just happens because there are larvae in it and they hatch and become... icky. We had the corn mix at Nuthaus for a while, and it got everywhere. Same with the really fine and "light" litter. We landed on Fresh Step Multi-Cat because it works best. I seriously think we've tried everything over the past couple of years.

5) We feed the cats a high-quality, no-filler food that cuts down on digestive waste. Better for the cats, easier for us. Probably a wash in the cost department, since they don't eat as much. (But, yes, it hurts spending more per pound on cat food than I do on some - most - of our meat.)

So.

Thursday is my day to sweep and mop all of the hard floors at Vogelfutter. Obviously, I touch-up sweep more regularly, but not necessarily every day. And certainly not multiple times per day. The boxes have cut down on tracking immensely. Like, I don't hate the cats anymore. I don't want to snuggle up with any of them, but I don't actively want them to pack their bags and get out, either. The other people around here seem fond of them.

The boxes take up less floor space than the other boxes we had. Their footprint is smaller, but they are taller, and there is plenty of room for the cats. Also, they are basically square, with no stick-outy parts, like where the lid to the other boxes hinged on, etc.

The boxes are sleek, with no place for dust and litter to collect. If litter gets on the lid, you can either sweep it back into the box with the brush on side of the scoop (each box comes with its own, so you don't have to lug one dirty scoop all over your house), or just open the lid and the litter falls back in. There is no way for the litter to fall off of the lid onto the floor unless maybe you were trying reallllly hard.

Because the boxes are so deep, my toddler cannot reach the litter. This is not to say that he can't see it, and that he can't drop things into the open hole. Oh, yes, he can. But I typically just wait until he's on to something else, remove the offending item, scald it, and am grateful that the child can't grab a handful of doo. Another benefit of cleaning the boxes every day is that whatever ends up in there usually just ends up with some clay granules on it. Nothing too disgusting so far.

Some of the reviews talk about how the boxes don't hold in the smells. I guess they don't, but I've only noticed a smell coming from one of the boxes (in the laundry room) one time since we moved. I'm guessing a cat had just gone, but that's also the most popularly-located box, and the most humid room, so it has a lot standing against it. Personally, I think it's better for the cats because the smell doesn't build up inside. We have one cat who will poop in the floor in front of the box if the odor in the box is not to her liking. That hasn't happened since we moved. (Again, probably also a function of our cleaning every day.)

The boxes have rubber feet, so if your cat is particularly enthusiastic about exiting the box, they're still not going to push it across the floor. Oh, no one else has cats that do that? Hmm. Must be nice.

So, all in all, my take is: Yes, it's freaking ridiculous that the litter boxes cost as much as they do. But we did a lot of research, and there's nothing that matches both the function and the look of these. I mean, you can throw $40 at a Clevercat top-entry box, but it's freaking huge and looks like you just sawed a hole in a storage container. Plus... so many nooks. So many crannies.

In the end, we were fortunate to be able to afford these, and I can tell you that my quality of life as a stay-home mom has improved immeasurably. Love them. Cannot recommend them highly enough.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hopefully (?) Farewell to the Nuthaus

We regretfully left the Nuthaus behind around June 23, for the first time.

We spent the weekend filling up Bungo Boxes (which are awesome) with almost the last of our stuff, I went to work, Laura shut the cats into Mal's mostly-empty room, the movers loaded up the truck, and then we should have been done.

I dropped by that evening to pick up the cats. I wish I had a video of that trip. It wouldn't be as much "fun" as most: I've learned that it's safest to just lock the varmints up and make them suffer. (It's not like we were driving cross country...that's a totally different lesson).

I think that our contact at the management company started pestering us the next day about finishing up our move out. Because, hey, if they manage to get this sucker re-leased before the end of July, maybe we could get some of our last month's rent back!

I don't remember the leasing arrangements when I moved in. Laura handled those. I think she probably paid for them. I don't remember whether the security deposit was something like "first and last months' rent, plus the pet deposit" or anything along those lines.

I do know that we tried to convince the management company to let us vacate the house when we actually left. They played hard-ball about most of the nickel and dime bullshit. They let us turn off the gas, since it's such a huge safety concern, but our lease wouldn't allow us to do things like turn off the lights or stop paying them rent.

OK, that was fine. If history is any indicator, the house will probably stand vacant for ~8 months while the owners hire more illegal immigrants to perform more sub-par work to make the place look like its habitable for the next set of suckers who come along.

That sounds pretty bitter. It is, but not the way it sounds.

I absolutely love that house and its location. I wish there'd been enough room to justify buying it. And that we could have afforded it. Maybe that and the middle house on the lot would have been perfect for our family.

Except for things like the plumbing, the crazy wiring, the lack of insulation, the storage, the insane price...it's probably best that we walked away when we did.

When I did walk away, I made a point to turn off absolutely everything. Laura had already emptied and scrubbed out the fridge. The lights and fans get triggered pretty much randomly (our guess is RF from the fire station up the street), so I made absolutely certain to turn off those switches.

That also turns off the kitchen stove. (Yes, the wiring in this house is extremely screwy).

And, of course, I made it a point to turn off the A/C at its thermostat.

I felt really bad for the housecleaner who showed up a day or so later to deal with the grime we'd left behind. I wouldn't have blamed her at all for turning the A/C down to 60, cranking the job out, then putting things back the way she found them when she left.

According to our contact at the management company, she did a horrible job (in all fairness, the dishwasher is covered with Mal's grubby handprints). And we needed to finish getting our shit out, ASAP. Even though, technically, it was still our property.

For anyone who isn't all that familiar with Laura and me, that particular tactic will never work. Unless you're going for the exact opposite effect.

We made it absolutely clear that we're all in favor of someone else moving in quickly. It would be wonderful if they'd take back ownership, do whatever it is they must to make the place habitable, and start making money from new renters.

But not on our dime. Until they're willing to take ownership back, that is our house.

The management company pestered us with little blips and nudges about getting the rest of our stuff out of the way so other people can move in until we expressed our concerns that they might do the unthinkable and bring in contractors on our dime.

Which they'd already done.

We got last month's electric bill today. Somehow, the Nuthaus (where I had very deliberately done everything except unscrew those stupid fuses, because we want to maintain the terms of our lease) had a higher electric bill than Vogel Futter.

Laura was planning to go back to try to figure out what was going on, but Mal thwarted her plans. So I swung by there on my way home. I really should send them a bill for the 2 hours that I wasted.

I can really sum up the entire problem by writing that the thermostat was set at 77 when I arrived. We don't set the thermostat that low in a home we're occupying.

And that most of the ceiling fans were running. And the lights that power the stove were turned back on. And that the front hose bib had been left dripping.

Oh, and some construction company had added closets to all three "bedrooms."

Mostly. There are a bunch of signs taped to the doors promising "closets soon!" And now there are some really big Ikea-style shelving units pretending to be closets in all three of the private areas.

Maybe the owners think this will let them legally market the place as a 3 bedroom? Laura says the closet's the distinguishing feature. Our home inspector refused to classify areas as bedrooms unless the windows opened...I don't know where the line gets drawn.

But I do know that I'm extremely upset that our landlord took back just enough ownership to commission work in a house for which we were legally responsible. I suppose his lawyer's already told him it's OK.

I really want to double-check with my lawyer. I could find lots of uses for those shelves.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Ohhh, we're in trouble...

Just a quick update because I really needed to note this.

Tonight, after a long day of construction (of the "some assembly required" kind), Mal and I needed some together time that didn't involve him trying to climb up me while I used an Allen wrench, so I asked him if he wanted to take a bath, and he lit up. He loves baths. And he loves it when I take a bath with him even more.

We got in, and whereas I let him play with the water control when he bathes alone, I make him keep it warm when I join him! We filled the water up, and were chatting as I washed my hair.

After I'd shampooed it, I filled up a water cup and dumped it over my head. I did this several times to get all of the soap out, and while I did that, Mal approached me. But he wasn't trying to nurse like he does sometimes when the opportunity presents itself.

Instead, he had noticed the foamy (though rather pathetic) bubbles that were accumulating around me where the water had rinsed the shampoo off of me and into the tub.

Mal put his hand down in the bubbles and pulled it back out, put his fist into the "o" shape, and then started blowing on it.

That child has watched me make soap bubbles and he gets it!

He's so observant, we already know. Now it's fun to see him putting things together and mimicking them. I can also tell he's going to get into tons of trouble being so inquisitive and sharp.

When James and I were talking about it tonight, I said, "I think he cottons on to a lot more than he lets on." James said, "Kind of like me." I thought about that for a moment, and truthfully told James, "You're the smartest man I've ever met." He kind of looked sideways, pondering this, and started to say, "I don't know about--" but then just said, "Thank you. That's a sweet thing to say." I think he knows that's true, too; he's just really humble.

And now we have a kid with his brain and my... um... I don't know. But it's going to be a ride.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Guess I'm Just Not Classy...

Mal's already been asleep for about half an hour. That's earlier than usual, but the past two days, he's taken his "morning" nap (typically started between 9:30 and 11:30) after noon, and only slept an hour and a half or so, and completely dropped the second nap.

So, he's gone to sleep earlier (and, sadly, been punch drunk, hyperactive, over-moody, and clumsy the last hour) BUT has slept until just before 8 instead of waking up shortly after 6. I'll miss that second nap if he drops it, but I appreciate the extra bed time for myself!

One thing I really liked doing with Daphne was taking her to story time or to her little gymnastics class, just a chance to get out of the house and do something together, and meet other parents.

Well, with Mal, we tried the free Emler Swim pre-Water Babies classes for four weeks. I loved the classes, and the teacher, and all of that... but Mal was DONE by 21 minutes into the half-hour session. He then cried that entire last 9 minutes (sometimes being distracted by stuff, but mostly just crying) and then he'd cry while I dressed him, and then myself, and, of course, he'd fall straight away to sleep once we were in the car.

After four weeks of that, I decided that it wasn't worth the hour it took to get ready, get there, and then return home for 20 minutes of swimming instruction/water access. And, now that he's older, he's actually gotten more comfortable in the pool with our living here than he did in those classes.

He'll spend an hour or more in the pool now, and the only thing that happens is that I get tired and need a break. He likes to be held, even though he wants to control where he "swims." He does not like the floatie thing I try to sit him in, and he definitely hated the Puddle Jumper my sister brought over for him to try (in fairness, it might have been too big).

Oh, and he's "jumping" off of the side of the pool into first my sister's and now my arms. He sits on the edge, then hurls himself forward. Over time, I won't catch him as quickly, so he'll start to submerge his little head. I know that's the next step in Water Babies, anyway.

So no worries about the swim classes.

One day when Mal and I were out, we met a lady at Pease Park who told me about Hike It Baby. It sounded neat, so as soon as we got moved into our new place, I joined a hike over in Bee Cave.

First, and most obviously, I was the oldest mom there. Second, Mal was not having the hiking backpack after about half a mile. He managed to climb up and out of the arm straps (is he too small? I don't know; they're as tight as they'll go) so that he was standing where his booty was supposed to be, with his arms on top of my head, playing with my hair.

If I trusted him not to lean over sideways and fall out, I wouldn't even have cared; but I don't, and I was scared, and so after a bit, another mom helped me sit him back down, and I just held his feet. At my upper sides. Not particularly comfortable, and he hated it, and kept squirming and fussing, so I ended up tapping out about 1/4 of a mile before the 2 mile walk was over.


Mal was playing on the playground when the others were finished and let their kids free to roam, too. I believe he was the youngest child. With the oldest mom. Yep. They were nice ladies, but I just never felt an "in" into the conversations. Also, I wasn't wearing Capri yoga pants; I didn't get the memo.

Ultimately, it felt like a long drive (15 minutes; I know, I'm spoiled from living downtown and not having to drive) for a thing that lasted half an hour plus play time, and maybe if I kept going back, I'd establish relationships, but... I'm super lazy about that kind of thing and need it to come a lot easier.

Another idea: I saw that a nearby library (though not technically local, so we can't get a library card; actually also in Bee Cave) had story time. Tuesday morning, I drove over to arrive a bit early and enjoy the library... then realized I'd shown up 15 minutes early if it were the same time as the hike had been (9:30), but it was actually an hour later. And the shopping center where the library is is dead until 10.

I ended up getting Mal's stroller out of the car and just walking around Hill Country Galleria for a bit. It kind of reminded me of downtown, except not dirty and there were no people and it had very little personality, except for a park area in the middle.

Fortunately, Dick's Sporting Goods actually had opened at 9:00, so we got to spend some air conditioned time in there, and Mal ended up with his own CamelBak, because he's always trying to steal other people's... and I didn't realize until we got home that with that particular brand, you have to bite down a little on the straw to open it. It seems like a bad precedence while I'm still nursing!

We killed the last of the time by my pushing Mal in the stroller really close to the fountains, so he couldn't crawl through the splash pad and get soaked, but he was able to reach over with his hand and get water everywhere until I pulled him away.

We were in the library just as it opened, and played and had a good time exploring, including meeting a sweet girl who was 16 months old and weighed less than Mal (surprise!). Then right at 10:30, a sweet librarian came over and told us that story time was actually upstairs in one of the City Hall's public rooms.

When we got up there, the floor in front of the lady conducting story time was pretty full. I found a place to sit off to the side, near her, but not in front of anyone.

About five minutes later, a whole big group of moms came in together, and one sat directly between us and the lady, so that we couldn't see her anymore. I thought maybe she was just sitting down and would re-position a bit further back or forward once she started settling in, but no. Mal couldn't see the reader at all.

Fifteen minutes later when story time was over, I'd pretty much decided I wasn't coming back to that, either. It's geared to babies, and, I'm sorry, stuff that we think babies like is just not too much fun for adults.

We sang some songs... including an altered "Jingle Bells" where the kids got to jingle an actual bell - in a rattle - but the words had been re-written to include "ring it high and ring it low; ring it fast and ring it slow" but which, most horrifically, rhymed "bells" with "bells" and I will not have my son learning this crap; I WON'T HAVE IT!

We listened to a couple of books. One was "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and if you're a parent or grandparent who adores that book, then good on you. But I can't.

The reader did "Three little monkeys swinging from a tree" with stick puppets, too. One kid walked up to her and tried to take the Popsicle stick animals, to no avail (this lady was good, I have to say). In fact, that kid walked around and invaded the reader's space pretty much the whole time. His mom videoed almost the entire enterprise, except when she was apparently live-Tweeting or checking email or maybe making sure her make-up looked okay or something. Lots of phone stuff for that mama.

Another mom had carted out the puffs for her little prince, and as he was nomming them very enthusiastically, it of course attracted half a dozen other kids within crunch-hearing range, and their moms then had to try to redirect them, and the kids were all whiny and upset about it. It's fifteen freaking minutes. Seriously, could we not have had a snack on the way in and just sat there without food for a quarter of an hour?

It was obvious that a lot of work and planning and effort and print-outs and whatnot goes into that story time. It's just not for me.

Maybe it's Bee Cave.

The ladies I've met over there are nice, but they don't feel like "my people," the way true Austin people do. Does that make sense?

I'm going to try to join a MOPS group this fall, so hopefully within a couple of months, I'll have an outlet to meet other moms. I really don't mind being the old one. I think I can hang with the young 'uns. But there has to be some common ground besides that we're moms, you know?

I might also try other hikes, but now that it's mid-July and finally becoming summer here (I'm not complaining about the reprieve!), that will probably have to wait a couple of months, as well.

Any other ideas for connecting to like-minded moms, laid back, and without having to drive half way across the great state of Texas? (Which, to me, is like Jolleyville.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

$4!+ Happens. Literally.

No one should read this blog post. Seriously.

This is the kind of thing that when I read it on Facebook, I wonder, "Why did they share this?"

But I'm sharing it, so maybe you can feel a little bit better about your day?

Last night, one of our toilets backed up. Mal had already gone to bed, and I was trying to take care of it between his bouts of wakefulness.

This isn't always easy, because he wakes up every 20 minutes or so when he first goes to bed.

So I would go into the bathroom, try one of the tips I saw on WikiAnswers how to unclog a toilet without a plunger (our plunger is still in the old house, but that's another story), then go back into the bedroom to check on Mal.

After about 4 tries, it became clear that I wasn't going to unclog the toilet that night.

It also became clear that Mal was not going to sleep well last night, as he's very congested and can't breathe through his nose, which makes it difficult to nurse.

This morning, he woke up in a good mood, though  I have to be sure to close the bathroom door, because Mal likes to explore in the bathroom, including putting his hands in the toilet.

After a bit of playing, Mal started to get fussy. Fortunately, I needed to vacuum and that is one of his favorite things.

I put on the baby carrier, and put Mal in it, noticing that his diaper felt pretty full for as early in the morning as it was. I made a note to check it as soon as we were finished.

I vacuumed, which takes about half an hour in the new place. When I was finished, I was noting to Mal that I needed to use the restroom myself, and if I weren't wearing him, I would just go.

Instead, I set the vacuum aside, unstrapped the carrier, and put Mal on on the floor. As I made my way to the restroom, it became clear the he did not want to be put in the floor was not happy about it.

He crawled over to me, crying. As he crawled, I noticed that his diaper was in fact full, and everything was squishing out both the top and the bottom holes.

At the same time, it became apparent that my body was not going to cooperate with doing anything in a hurried manner.

Mal scrabbled up my legs, crying, sobbing! He was trying to get in my lap, with his dirty diaper in my compromised position.

I looked over and noticed that the carrier of course had solid waste in it.

As quickly as I could (I'll probably pay for it later), I finished my business and carried Mal gingerly in his room.

He doesn't like having his diaper changed, and this was no different. I finally got him laid down, and took off the old diaper.

Not to sound like an old fart, but I feel like diaper wipes have changed since Daphne was little. These don't work the way they were supposed to, by being able to be drawn out one at a time through the hole in the dispenser. I always have to open a dispenser all the way and pull out three or four at a time. But that's another rant altogether.

Once I managed to get Mal clean and outfitted, there was leaky stuff all over his bed/changing area.

He still wanted me to hold him (have you been imagining screaming and sobbing this whole time? I hope you have) but there were land mines everywhere and I needed to get them in the wash.

At this point, I remembered the phrase "choose love" but wasn't remotely tempted to pick up my little guy. Instead, I left him in his floor to fuss while I stripped his bed, then threw the sheets, the carrier, and everything else in the washing machine.

Then I grabbed Mal and nurses him to sleep

When he was down, I went back to tackle the toilet, and the wire hanger trick (with gloves) finally did it!

I cleaned the toilet, got myself cleaned up, and now am holding my sleeping soon, who has woken up there times during this mail already, but I don't even care.

I can use the break.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Day I Gave Up

I don't remember what day it was, exactly. But I remember it. It was the day I said, "Let's sell the crib. We'll put his mattress on the floor." It was the day I gave up.

And it was glorious freedom.

I don't know whether you remember, but I spent a lot of Mal's first, oh, six months complaining about his sleep/lack of sleep habits.

When I brought him to bed with me the first week or so he was home, I never ever would have dreamed that we'd get almost a year under our belts and he'd still be here.

When he was two months old, if I'd known this, I would have lost it. Lost. It.

But now it's different. Why? Because I gave up.

Understand this: My son is coming up on 10 months old, and he has never once "just" fallen to sleep. That magic "drowsy but not yet asleep" doesn't happen to him, except when he's in the car or bike seats. So I've never been able to just lay him down and have him drift off to sleep. Even crying, he's only fallen to sleep once, back in early February.

So that hasn't changed.

Nope, but I have.

When Mal was a couple of months old, it started bothering me that I didn't get any time to myself in bed. I started asking around and a lot of people who also co-sleep said that they put their baby in a bassinet or crib at first, then move them into bed when the baby wakes to nurse.

I tried that, and it sort of worked. Mal would often wake up when moving from my arms to the bed, but usually after a few tries, I could get him to stay in bed... for anywhere from 5 minutes to a couple of hours. It was usually closer to 15 minutes, and I never actually fell asleep or really rested; I was too on edge expecting him to wake up.

What was worse is that, after a month or so, he just would not tolerate the move from my holding him to going into the crib. I would spend easily half an hour to an hour each night, standing beside his crib, swaying, trying to discern the perfect time (his sleep level, my ability to bend over and deftly place him) to drop him into his bed, but he'd wake up. We even pre-warmed his bed by putting an electric heat pad in there before trying to move him.

One night, I tried and started bawling after the fourth time he woke up. I calmed myself down and tried a fifth time, and fuh-reaked out when he woke up again. I mean, whisper screaming to James, "What am I doing wrong?! What am I doing wrong?" between very colorful swear words and pounding my own bed with my fists in absolute desperation.

I felt angry. Was I angry with my baby? I couldn't be! He wasn't doing anything "wrong." Except he wasn't meeting my expectations, and I was on edge.

That particular night, I made the limit of two times. If he woke up two times, I'd give up and he'd come to bed with me. And it happened more often than not, which made me feel like a failure. I still wasn't doing "it" right, whatever "it" was.

After a while, I stopped trying to put him in the crib at all, because I thought I was too tired to deal with it. As it turned out, that was the right thing.

Here's what I slowly realized: This boy cannot sleep on his own. He just can't. There's no way to "train" him to do something his body doesn't have the ability to do.

So I gave up.

I reluctantly embraced our reality, and found that life is a lot easier when you go with the flow instead of trying to fight it. We even bought a king sized bed when we moved, and that's been a huge bonus! We actually have room to wrestle it out (literally; Mal is very active when he semi-wakes between sleep cycles) without messing too much with James' sleep.

He is getting better and easier about some sleep things: We typically have two pretty reliable naps per day. There is one in the morning, between about 9 and 11:30, that lasts an hour. Then there is another one sometime between 1:30 and 4:30 that lasts an hour or two.

Mostly, Mal naps on the couch. But he's slept on his floor mattress at least half a dozen times, which is half a dozen more than he slept in it when it was part of a crib.

What I've learned from watching his naps is the fact that once he reaches a certain level of wakefulness, he literally cannot put himself back to sleep. Even if he's still sleepy. Even if staying awake means he'll be fussy and crying. It doesn't matter. I have to help him get back to sleep, even during the day.

Eventually, Mal will sleep through the night, or at least big chunks of it. Eventually, he'll sleep in another room, in his own bed. Apparently, eventually, one day I will miss this time of familial closeness. I can't imagine that, but I also can't imagine going back to the stress of trying to shove a giant square peg into the eye of a needle (appropriately mixing metaphors there).

Giving up was the best thing I could have done for my son.


From May 2015
From June 2015
From June 2015
From July 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Transitioning (Nuthaus news, the name of our new place, and dating... sort of)

We're all unpacked and getting settled in, but there are still a few things that are in flux.

First, we're still in the last month of our lease at the Nuthaus. We signed the lease here on May 25, so got to pay double rent in June and July. It's been real. When James was unemployed, we didn't take anything out of our savings, but for the past couple of months, we did have to draw on that. We can replace it by the end of the year, most likely, but still. Urgh.

Well, the day we moved, I turned off, unplugged, and opened the refrigerator, then I turned off the air conditioner. Someone came and cleaned it two days later, and I feel really bad because I didn't think about the climate control for the cleaner. As it turns out, she didn't do that great of a job, anyway. I got the following email recently:

"Hi Laura,
"I am at the Nueces and wanted to make sure you knew there were a few items still here. Also I'm not sure if more cleaning is going to be done, but there definitely things that were missed... When you come back, be sure to not lock the top locks.
"Thanks Laura, have a great 4th!"

Those "top locks"? They are the tenant deadbolts. You lock them to keep management out when you don't want them in. We'd locked the one in front because, frankly, it seemed more safe to go out the back door and have the front as locked up as possible in order to avoid having someone break into a vacant house.

But the tone of the email made me angry. It's still our house. We can lock the deadbolts if we want.

Anyway, yesterday, I received another email from her:

"Have you been back to Nueces yet?    If not, that is fine since you technically still have the property through this month, I was just wanting to check."

Heh. Um. No.

We don't "technically" have the property. We actually, legally, and fully "have" the property through the end of the month. We have paid for it. It is ours. Does it need work to be made ready for the next tenant? YES. Should you be in there getting it fixed up now so that you can rent it quickly? Probably. Were you willing to let us stop paying rent early to facilitate that? Nope. So TOO DARN BAD.  I'm not going back until July 31, and I told James I'm tempted to start taking our trash over there and storing it in the middle of the living room.

That is *definitely* not WJWD, though. I need to get over it. Here's a song to help us all feel better.




So.

Oh, here's something; We'd been thinking about what to call this new place, and we decided upon...

*drumroll*

VOGELFUTTER!

Yes, that is from henceforth the name of this here apartment; Vogelfutter.

Also, some people have asked me about "Team Dave's" and what that means. It's our family. We don't all have the same last name, so we can't go by our collective surname. How did we come up with "Team Dave's"? I don't know that I'm at liberty to explain that. You'll have to ask James. I mean, you know I'd tell you. But I think he likes it being our secret.

Now...

Before Daphne and I moved to Austin, I found New City Church (then Soma) online. I knew if the church were as its website seemed, we'd end up staying there. And we did. Week One, and, bam, it was the place we were supposed to be. Hard to believe that was nearly three years ago!

When we started, there were a very few kids around Daphne's age. Now, there are none. It's been that way for a couple of years, actually. The nearest to her age is more than two years younger; older, it's at least 7, meaning young adult.

I've heard and read that parents should go to church wherever their kids feel comfortable (and the truth is being taught, obvs), because whereas I, as a mature believer, can find camaraderie and/or spiritual "supplementation" on my own if need be, my teenager is unlikely to do that. I need to make it as available for her as possible.

When I first realized she wasn't meeting anyone her own age, we did BSF for a year. She did meet a friend there, but that friend had to move suddenly over a year ago. We homeschool and Daphne is not interested in many extracurricular activities, so I need for her to be somewhere that she can meet actual people at her stage of life, and she's just not.

So, it's with a great deal of mixed emotions that we've started visiting churches around Vogelfutter. And now I remember how much I *hate* visiting churches. It's like dating, but worse. Thus far, we haven't had any of the "ten minutes in, I can tell you this is a big 'no' but how do we leave without being rude?" situations.

The church we visited last week I liked immensely and would love to go there. I didn't put Mal in the nursery because it smelled like poop, and I could barely get him signed in without my eyes watering from the stench. I mumbled something (true) like, "He can't make it the whole time, so I'll bring him in when he gets restless" and ran out of there knowing I wasn't going to condemn him to the odor.

They had a cry room, and they had a lot of songs and responsive readings and even a children's sermon, so there was plenty of activity and moving. We spent about 8 minutes in the cry room, not because Mal was crying, but because he was ready to crawl everywhere.

I liked the atmosphere of the church, and enjoyed the service (as much as I could focus and participate), but Daphne "wasn't really feeling it."

Today, we visited a place that is pretty literally across the highway from our apartments. It took longer to strap Mal in than it did to drive to the building.

Daphne said it reminded her of "where we used to go to church in Sherman, but not as big." She doesn't remember that when we started going to church there, it was actually about the same size (300 people). The temperature in the sanctuary was about 64 degrees.

Mal LOVED the nursery, actually. I went in and sat with him for about 15 minutes, then left for the rest of the message (only about 15 more minutes) and he didn't even notice I'd gone. He had fun playing.

There was a middle school gathering during that hour, but Daphne stayed in service instead. Besides, I think she'd be starting 9th grade if she were in school, so she'd probably be in with the high schoolers. The high and middle schoolers actually meet every Sunday at 4, so next week I'm thinking about taking Mal to the earlier service (this one fell in the middle of his usual nap time) and then taking D to the student service.

Anyway, there wasn't a definite "no" today, or really last week, either, but there wasn't a giant neon "yes!" And the whole undertaking is... ehhhhhh. I just want to magically be somewhere that Daphne feels she's a part.

Oh, one thing going for this place today, besides the fact that it's less than a mile away, is that they have a mother's day out program, and when Mal is 14 months, he'd be able to do that for a few hours two days a week. Especially if he likes the nursery and is in the same general vicinity, that might be a good way to transition him to hanging out somewhere besides under my mammaries for a bit. (Sorry if that was too graphic.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Some Random Stuff

None of this is worthy of its own post, but it's stuff I wanted to get in writing:

1) I had mentioned some "Malstones," and later remembered this: Mal knows the word and the sign for "ball." Although he can't (or doesn't) sign or say "ball," if I sign or say it, he'll look for or at a ball. What he will do, though, is pop his mouth (like making an exaggerated "p" sound), which apparently I do when I sign but don't vocalize "ball."

2) Mal also finally has the "high five" down. He's still pretty wimpy and a bad aim with his slap, but he's tracking and can respond to the request.

3) Typically, we've been eating out at least twice every weekend, then maybe another time during the week... so thrice weekly. Since we can't walk to dinner, we haven't eaten out in almost two weeks.

4) I'm dirtying and washing a lot of dishes (see #3... and #5).

5) I feel like I won "The Price is Right"! When we moved, I got a new big Crock Pot (our old old one broke when the attic door at the Nuthaus swung open and knocked it off of the refrigerator, then our new old one was like 1 quart and we could only make tiny things), a new Cuisinart Griddler, a new Ninja (or Fruit Ninja, as my sister kept calling it, so now I call it that), and a new ice cream maker (on sale for $25 at Breed and Company right before we moved). We used all four last weekend! I made two batches of ice cream (sweet corn blueberry and chocolate peanut butter), chicken breasts with potatoes and carrots (the potatoes were from Farmhouse Delivery), macadamia-crusted talapia and butternut squash soup and artichoke and spinach dip with the Ninja, and perfect pancakes and veggie burgers and s'mores on the Griddler! Also, I make smoothies pretty much every day, and Mal barely shares them with me. I'm loving it!

6) Oh, yeah, we subscribed to Farmhouse Delivery, which is a lot like Bountiful Baskets, I'd imagine. Every 2 weeks, we get a large bushel of local produce. So far, so good. The potatoes were amazing. The cucumber was delicious, too. And onions. The only thing in which I have been disappointed so far was the tomatoes. They tasted like the grocery store instead of the ground, which I've come to expect from fresh tomatoes.

7) Daphne is still hanging out and talking more. I think this might be an insurance policy for her, but I'll take it.

8) Mal's Cherokee blood (James' side) is coming out in his ability to tan. Except for in his fat creases, which are 100% white like I am.

That's it for now. Here's another picture. Night!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Malstones Galore: The boy is growing up fast!


There he is!

Little Mal is hardly little anymore. I weighed him at a friend's house the other day, and he's 25 pounds. At 9 months. He probably could walk right now, but he shows no interest. He crawls everywhere and pulls up and climbs and sometimes lets go of stuff and stands up. But he's made no effort to take steps, which means I get to look forward to continuing maintenance of these upper body muscles for a few more months, at least.

Developmentally expected, he's in full bore separation anxiety mode. We're back to my not being able to take showers or have him sit through a full meal or my being able to tidy up the kitchen without fussing for me to hold him, but two things help: I know it's temporary, and he's letting James soothe him in ways he didn't before.

For instance, yesterday at the post office, Mal fell back and hit his head. I was busy packaging a couple of things, so James picked Mal up. Mal really wanted me. But he let James hold him, and eventually he calmed down. That was a first! It happened a second time, later in the day, when he was upset that I was busy making dinner. James took Mal to his room, and within a few minutes, Mal was playing quietly.

Speaking of James, I'd noted that Mal had started saying, "Dada" over a month ago. Mal calls James now, as well as saying "Dada!" very happily when he sees his dad after a long day of separation, or even just a long play time, and James comes in to see what's going on.

But that's not all!

The other day, I called to Daphne down the hall, and Mal hollered, "Da-dayee!" It was distinctly different than his "Dada." I wondered if he was trying to say Daphne's name, and since then, he's done it about 5 more times. Today, I'd lost sight of him and hear him saying, "Da-nayee!" I called down the hall, "Is he in your room?" Daphne said, "Yes. Please come get him." But allegedly she did not hear him say her name. Which he does.

Does he call me "Mama"? Nope. Not really. He cries "Mama!" when he wants me, but I think that's just because it works, and because that's a sad sound that kids make. I try to reinforce it by saying, "Yes?" when he randomly repeats, "Mom" over and over again.

We've worked into a semi-routine where Mal naps twice a day instead of three times. Usually, the first nap starts between 9:00 and 11:30 and lasts between an hour and two hours (yes, he wakes up once or twice during, and I have to nurse him back to sleep). Then he'll nap again between 2:30 and 5:00 for the same amount of time, an hour to two hours. If he catches some sleep in the car, one of those might be eliminated, or it might not. The shorter and/or earlier the second nap, the earlier he usually goes to sleep. He was asleep by 8:00 PM two nights ago, but 9:30 last night. It's typically during that window. And he's up between 6:15 and 7:15 every morning. And, yes, he nurses all night.

He does this thing where, when he rouses in the night, he just starts crawling. He might crawl into the wall, or over me, or toward the foot of the bed, or into James' face. I don't know that he's fully waking, but I surely am. I have to wrestle him back into a laying position so he will fall back to sleep. I wake up sore every morning. This kid, remember, weighs nearly 2 stone.

Mal understands a lot. He gets excited when I ask him if he's ready for a bath. When James was trying to point out some birds eating off of the patio deck and said, "Look! There are some birds!" Mal instead looked toward the feeder. He knows some things he isn't supposed to do, and as he starts to do them, he doesn't know enough to be subtle. Instead, he'll go to whatever it is he's not supposed to be messing with (our phones, my soda, Daphne's room, the toilets) and before he gets there, turn to look at us, and giggle with the biggest... uh, poo-eating grin on his face. We're in big trouble, folks.

Mal loves fruit. He will drink anything I pour out of our Ninja, including a thing I made up yesterday that had peaches, mango, banana, cucumber, and spinach in it. The other morning, it was blueberries, chia seeds, banana, spinach, and carrots. He loves cherries. He loves raisins. He likes most meat. He prefers to feed himself than to have us do it. He has a cup with a straw that he can use on his own, but sippy cups still baffle him. He hasn't really cottoned on to the tipping back part yet. He really likes almond milk with a touch of honey (it's prepared and comes in the milk, and it's pasteurized, so don't freak out about the honey before he's a year old).

I almost hate to say this, lest I jinx it, but the past week or so, getting Mal into his carseat hasn't been the knock-down drag-out it has been, well, the rest of his life. That might have to do with the fact that we're in the car a bit more than we were when we lived downtown and he's just realized that nothing bad is going to happen, or it might have to do with the vanilla wafers I've started leaving in the back seat. The second we get into the car, I hand him one and sit him in the seat, strapping him in while he eats it. I'll take the mess over the tantrum any day of the week.

There's probably more I need to note, and I'll think of it later, but for now, I'm worn out and need to get to sleep! I konked out during the fireworks last night, and was out for the evening before 9:30. I felt like doing that again today, but wanted to record some of these things for posterity's sake.


Friday, July 3, 2015

An Open Letter to the Lactation Consultant I Almost Saw

Dear Ma'am,

The incident I'm about I am about to describe took place almost 9 months ago, during the second week of October 2014. At the time, I was too overwhelmed by being a mother of a newborn to process what I was feeling, but now I have more clarity and wanted to write this so that, in case you or any of your colleagues across our nation or even the world came across this, maybe it would help you improve your services.

When I called you, my baby was 16 days old. I hadn't been able to breastfeed my older child, but wanted to try with this one. We'd gone through the colostrum stage and had all of the expected diapers for a newborn, but then once we moved on to the milk, he had not had a "regular" dirty diaper.

Days passed. I heard everything from, "It's nothing; lots of breastfed babies use up everything in the milk and only wet" to "He's constipated; use a suppository" to "Something could be very wrong." In my mommy heart, I wasn't concerned. But I trusted my midwives, and once we were closing in on one week with no dirty diapers, they strongly suggested that I call you.

They said that, if nothing else, we could have the peace of mind that he was eating enough, as you had a very delicate scale that could indicate as much. So Friday afternoon, I called you to see if you were available on Monday.

You suggested that you come Saturday, because you said that in all of your years of doing this, you'd never heard of such a thing. After I agreed to that, you said, out loud, "I have plans with my family all day tomorrow, but I could come out first thing in the morning and probably not miss too much."

ITEM #1: That was unprofessional. This is your job. When you suggest a meeting time, either make it work or don't and tell me you misspoke. I don't know you; we're not friends. I don't need to know that you might be blowing off things you promised your kids to fit me in. Incidentally, I would have been fine with Monday. I would have preferred Monday, as I take much more of a "wait and see" attitude with this kind of thing, unless something "tells" me otherwise. As it was, I was full of postpartum hormones, and whether you meant to make me sound like a burden, or like you were doing me a huge favor, your thinking out loud made me very anxious. And I was already feeling pretty icky, what with people telling me that I was being too complacent about my child's care. Again, this is a lot of "new mom" emotional stuff, but these are the women you chose to serve. You're getting paid. Please treat me with professionalism.

You suggested that you would come out at 8:30, and that you'd need about thirty minutes to set up your scale, so we'd do the weigh-in at 9:00. Then you said, "Don't feed him for about two hours before I get there." I almost laughed. At that point, pretty much all of my time was spent feeding him. I said, "I'll try! He wants to nurse around the clock, no set schedule, and he wails if I try to put him off" to which you responded, "If you feed him fifteen minutes before I get there, there's no point in my coming. I need to get an idea of how much he's getting during a full feeding." I didn't go into the fact that every fifteen minutes *was* pretty much a full feeding, as we were doing it. That wasn't really important. If you'd stopped there, I would have understood you, and it would have been fine.

But then you said, "Besides, you're the parent. At some point, you're going to have to let him cry, so you might as well do it now."

ITEM #2: When he's just over two weeks old? You're a lactation consultant! If anyone were down with demand feeding, I would have assumed it'd be you. Here's what was going on: 1) My son might or might not be getting enough nutrition; the last thing I want to do is make him fast for two hours if he genuinely needs nourishment. 2) He is crying about 60-75% of his waking/non-feeding time, no matter what I do. Even when I intervene. Even when I'm holding him. So when I can soothe him to keep him from crying, that's what I need to do. 3) Did I mention the postpartum hormones? I did not need a lecture. I know I'm the parent. And now that my baby is 9 months old, I do let him cry when he wants to nurse but it won't work, especially when I have other snacks to offer and know he's very well fed. But during those first few weeks, it's hard enough without someone taking a peremptory tone, especially because I tell you I want to feed my baby. Not smoke around him. Not leave him in his crib while I run across to Taco Cabana. I know this is what you do every day, but you need to remember that I'm a new mom. I need gentle care. Not scolding.

However, then you offered to do something kind. You said, "Tell you what, if you wake up around 6 and feed him, go ahead and text me, and I can come earlier."

I appreciated this, especially the next morning when we woke up at about 6:45 and, because we were co-sleeping and nursing all night, couldn't really remember when we'd fed last. I figured it'd probably been within the half hour to hour before that, so I texted you. I also wanted you to know that, guess what, he'd had his first dirty diaper that morning! (I cried. Seriously.)

You said, "Okay. I'll come at 8:30 instead."

Uh.

ITEM #3: Our appointment was supposed to be at 8:30. So coming at 8:30 wasn't early. It was on time. I thought, "I'm glad I texted her! I wonder if, because she told me 8:30, half an hour to set up, and we'll weigh in at 9, she thought or wrote down that the appointment was at 9. Whew!"

Then I thought, "Oh! Maybe she means we'll weigh at 8:30, so she'll get here at 8!"

I took Mal outside to sit on the porch with me, so that the rest of the family could get some rest. It was raining that morning, and cool enough to be nice. I don't remember there being any mosquitoes.

Mal started fussing around 7:45. I walked with him, and I bounced him. I assured him you were on your way. As the minutes slipped by, I realized you meant you'd actually arrive at 8:30, but I felt like we were so close, I could do this. You'd be there soon. You'd talk to me and maybe it would distract him. It was going to be fine.

Mal started crying for real at about 8:15.

At 8:25, I thought about our housing situation and texted you where you could park without having to pay. Then I watched, looking up and down the street, waiting for you. I didn't know what you were driving, but there were not a lot of cars out. I started waving and smiling to cars inching by like they were looking for something.

ITEM #4: At 8:38, you texted me, "I'm running about 15 minutes late."

I knew we were done.

I texted back, "Don't bother, then. I have to feed him."

Because, frankly, if you said you were 15 minutes late, at this point I was assuming you were half an hour late, and it was already late and my baby had been fussing for an hour, and I was done.

You texted me, "I'm driving in the pouring rain. Are you telling me to turn around and go back home??"

ITEM #5: I just told you I didn't want the consultation. You don't need to "verify" it by putting a guilt trip on me. I can see that it's raining. I've been out here for over an hour. You should have texted me before you ever got into your car. Clearly, you realized you weren't on time. Why not text me when you realized there was no way you'd be there at 8:30, even if it were just 5 minutes before?

In a few minutes, you texted me that you'd pulled over and were ready to talk. You highly recommended that we go ahead with the appointment, but I told you I'd already fed him. He was quiet. He was sleeping. He was content. I did the right thing.

And yet I felt bad.

So I offered to pay you something for your time.

Later, you texted me that your charge for cancellations was half of your fee, and that was a lot more than I'd planned to send you. But I was tired, and I was frustrated, and I didn't need the drama, so I had Chase send you an $85 check... for nothing.

You did tack on an, "Okay, well, feel free to call me if you have any questions."

Doubtful.

ITEM #6: If you're late for an appointment that involves something like withholding food from a newborn, your clients should be able to tell you that you need to reschedule without having to fork over cash for your tardiness. You weren't just late for the early you promised, you were late for the actual appointment, which you knew was going to be difficult enough for me, anyway. YOU were late. And I paid you. Bad form.

In conclusion, I'm sure you're great at what you do. I came to enjoy and, I suppose, expect a certain level of care because of my awesome team of midwives. They would not have affiliations with you if you were not competent and their clients did not like you. Maybe you were just having a bad week. I don't know.

But, again, you have chosen to perform a vocation in which you deal with new mothers. New mothers are emotionally as sensitive to their new world as a baby is to his. Everything feels over the top and scary and discombobulating. I did not want or need tough love at that point.

So, what was the problem?

In the end, I don't think there was one.

I know my kid's latch sucked (or didn't suck?... properly?), and that's probably one reason we had to feed so much and so often. He's still really bad at it, but whatever we're doing is apparently working.

Hope whatever you're doing is working for you, too.

Then and now. Think he's doing okay! Oh, and he likes vanilla almond milk!

A Quick Word About the "Call to Action"

How are you guys feeling about July 4th? Do you kind of feel a a little bruised about America based on the events of the past couple of weeks? There are lots of people with lots of viewpoints, but I feel like most of us have been disappointed either by our fellow Americans or our government or our political process or either our lack of social progress in the past 200 years or what seems like a rocket-ship's speed of progress.

I'm not going to talk about my opinions about any of it, though I definitely do have thoughts. If you want to talk about it, let's meet and talk. No one ever changed his or her mind on a touchy subject (like politics, racism, marriage equality, gun rights, etc.) based on an internet showdown, least of all based on my little blog.

What I wanted to address specifically is one thing that I've seen come up several times on the internet (which, whatever, we're a bunch of random weirdos so just carry on) but also in my social media feeds... and you guys are my friends, and I love you, and I hurt that you hurt, and I also think that you're maybe worried about the wrong things and are maybe thinking that there's something coming and you need to do something, but the thing you're wanting to do isn't the important thing.

Sorry for the vaguery. I genuinely don't want to step on anyone's toes, and I definitely want this post to reflect the love and sympathy I have... maybe I should have done it as a vlog, but I can't talk when my child is asleep, and I don't get a minute to the computer when he's awake, so thanks for bearing with this, and for giving me every benefit of the doubt.

I've seen the following phrases called forth on social media recently: "call to action," "battle lines," and various takes on that kind of thing. If you're one of the ones posting that, may I speak with you for just a moment?

Yes, Jesus called us to action. He did. He said to go and make disciples. In his word, though many writers, he said to stand up for the defenseless (especially widows and orphans). Visit people in prison. Take care of the sick. Feed the hungry. Whatever you do to the least of these, that kind of thing.

However you feel about the Supreme Court's ruling on "gay marriage," allow me to assure you of this one thing: gay people are not your enemy. There is no epic, Cristendom-wide battle against them, or the culture, or any of it. We have one enemy, and that's Satan. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. If you feel like you HAVE to act or you'll go crazy, I promise you that two people of the same gender getting married should not be your target. Likely, it will not affect you in the least, dire predictions aside.

If you want to be mad, and direct that anger at something productive, join Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Become a Court-Appointed Special Advocate. Go downtown and sit and have a thirty minute conversation with the marginalized transient. Visit a nursing home and take your kids. Volunteer to keep the kids of a single mom you know so she can get out for a while. Mow your elderly neighbor's yard. Find out what you can do to stop child trafficking. Go visit a random person in jail. See if there are opportunities to help out at an unplanned pregnancy center, or food kitchen, or organization that helps women transition out of the sex industry.

These people, good Christians, they NEED you.

You know what else? I need you.

I feel useless so often, unable to get a shower some second (or even third) days, because I have such a high needs baby. It breaks my heart to think that anyone who might have the time and righteous anger to spare is going after something that has been around for years and only now has an official seal of approval from the government (and, honestly, who cares about the government? I don't think it should license, approve, incentivize, or be any part of marriage in any way, but that's another subject).

So get out there. Show me how awesome it is. Then hound me, and make me realize that I *do* have time. I do. I need to get out there myself. I need to love more, and to serve more. And stop making excuses. And, frankly, to expect all of you to change so I can feel better about myself.

Believe me, I get you. I get that it hurts to think that your deity is being disregarded, but God doesn't need our defense. We're not called to defend "our" way or to stand up as a big bloc to the nations. The zealots expected that, and Rome was far worse than the US, but Jesus was apolitical. There was never any call to fight against the corrupt government or culture. Not one mention of it, by way of instruction or example.

Please stop predicting that this one thing is going to call down God's judgment on us as a nation. First of all, the United States isn't Israel, Part II; we don't have a covenant with God like they did. I don't know what God's "blessings" on our country that people are decrying will end even mean. Secondly, we've committed some government-sanctioned atrocities in the past 200 years, and we're still here. Genuine, robbing-of-freedom and taking-of-lives for no reason stuff. Actions that have pretended that every person is not a person bearing God's likeness. And we persist as a nation.

Even Rome managed to hang around for a good several hundred years after the death of Christ and ensuing persecution of Christians. And those WERE God's people, yet he didn't smite Rome. Those people just sat around and thought up torture for amusement. There is zero way that our country's atmosphere is worse or more deserving of divine punishment.

So don't worry, don't sound alarms that will make you... make us look foolish later.

Please.

If you're just so mad you feel like you have to do something, please do. But why not do something that will leave a legacy of love, so that maybe people will look back at this time in the future and say, "Wow, they really stepped up and helped change the culture." In a good way. In a way that people cannot deny is loving and helpful. Maybe even, "I did not expect that," with smiles on their faces?

Please.