Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't worry, it's just that I'm a loser.

The problem with every day is that it happens so damn often. Everything's fine around here, but the blog train is running low on steam.

More later.

(um, maybe)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


bonkle: noun. The inevitable tinkly impact of the baby's head and her (soft) dangling bell toy as you try to extricate her from her Baby Amusement Center.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Inevitable Poop Post

Babies start out as little poop machines. When Cleo was first born, she ate about every two hours, and pooped almost as often. Now that she's a burly almost-four-months, that has slowed to once or twice a day, with the increase in volume that you might imagine would come with that decrease in frequency. It was still manageable, though, and we were unconcerned with the change in her habits.


As of yesterday afternoon, it had been a solid two and a half days without any activity. Every diaper change felt like handling a grenade whose pin had been pulled. We started dressing her pre-emptively, with a mind to slowing the inevitable explosion. This meant a long sleeved, high necked onesie, plus long pants, plus a hooded jacket. It was in this state (and outfit) that I handed my daughter over to my parents and went out for a few hours. It was a testament to their love for Cleo that they took her, and it was a testament of her love for them that she waited to let loose until ten minutes after they'd gone home.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I can't blame her.

My inner editor used to have a much better office. It was right behind my left eyebrow and spacious, with cushy carpeting, a nice view, and one of those big squishy leather chairs that adjust eleven different ways for optimal support. Since the re-organization of my brain, however, she's been moved to the boiler room, where she sits on a rickety stool and has only a headlamp for light. Poor thing.

She hasn't quit yet, though, she just takes a little longer to get things done. For example, I wrote a post last night at about seven, and it wasn't until I woke up to feed Cleo at midnight that the memo arrived at Central Command from the boiler room. It was not kind: "Nashing? Nashing? You have the rare chance to use a word as satisfying as "gnashing" and you blow it? This is your first warning. If things don't improve around here, I'm taking my headlamp and quitting for good."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life Lessons

Kids learn not only from what you say, but from what you do. This week, Cleo has learned a couple good things. From her father: make regular back-ups of your computer, whether you think you need to or not. This was a boring lesson, consisting mainly of watching him do it. From her mother: use pyrometric cones in every kiln firing, whether you think you need to or not. This was a more exciting lesson, consisting of watching her mother not do it, and then observing the wailing, nashing, and rending that ensued. Live and learn and be like your dad, sweetheart.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Eating the Freezer

After you have a c-section, they suggest that you not climb a lot of stairs. My midwife said I should keep myself to one round-trip per day. Since we don't have a bathroom on the ground floor, this pretty much kept me out of the (ground-floor) kitchen for two or three weeks. It worked out well. Cleo's grandmothers and father kept the grown-up meals coming so that I could concentrate on baby meals and healing. The baby meals were a bit of a challenge in the beginning, and I had to use a pump to help out.

One effect of this was that there was a lot of extra milk hanging around. I was not going to let such a hard-earned liquid go to waste, so we started freezing it. The freezer started to fill with containers of milk. And then it started to over-fill, and something had to be done. That something was the Disappearance of several years worth of bread heels, tubs of mysterious leftovers, kitchen experiments, and general detritus. What can I say? I do like to save things. So while I was marooned upstairs, my husband (with the collusion of my very own mother) was living the dream of a lifetime. Things that moved from our last house's freezer to this one were thrown away with no ceremony at all. Not even Taps hummed softly over the garbage can. It was all just Gone.

I admit now that it was a good idea. Why, for the first time in years I can actually use the freezer! You can see what's in there! It's kind of weird. They did save the identifiable, usable things, and I'm now in the process of working my way through these things. It's all part of a new plan to actually take things out of the freezer occasionally, instead of just jamming things in. So now we're reaching the end of the freezer stuff (and the milk supply has been thinned as well), so I have Freezer Real Estate burning a hole in my pocket (how's that for a mixed metaphor? I think I win). What should I make and freeze (and later use)? What's the saving grace dinner backup in your freezer? And can I steal your brilliant ideas?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

It's November

And you can tell because we were doing the annual half-assed yard clean-up, and this was heard as the rotting, fetid jack-o-lanterns were being gingerly carried to the compost at arm's length:

"Is there anyone we don't like?"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Moistest Baby on the Block

There are post-meal traditions in various cultures. A genteel stroll around the village square, a small, strong, foul-smelling drink of something. A cup of herbal tea. Being not quite four months old yet, Cleo's not really ready for any of these. So she's working out her own way of easing the progress of her meal through her belly.

Unfortunately, her current method is to play and squeal and exercise until she barfs. It seems to work well for her: there's no distress involved, and she's still getting bigger by the day, but it is a bit of a laundry issue. Between the teething drool and the post-prandial eruptions, the top four inches of her shirt were almost always soaking. Enter the bibs. Enter all six presentable bibs she owns, sometimes all in one day. Enter the most bedraggled of the hand-me-down bibs. And then run out of bibs, and re-enter the least-soiled (and now dry) of the previous set. So, we need more bibs. I did what I do, and looked online (somehow, the kids thrift store doesn't have bibs. Too gross? I guess). And guess what? I'm both cheap and picky. We need a lot of bibs, and I don't want a bunch of bibs that have dumb sayings on them. I also don't want to spend eight bucks on each lousy (but attractive!) piece of cloth that's just designed to get between my daughter and her goop, and then be tossed in the laundry.

So I learned some things. I learned that Cleo's dad has a bunch of old white t-shirts that are surplus to requirements. I learned that machine-sewing comes under the category of Easy With Baby in the Sling (or at least Possible With Baby in the Sling). I learned that you don't need a serger to sew knits, and I learned that while Cleo's fascinated by the sound of the sewing machine when she's awake, she finds it intensely annoying when she's trying to sleep.

So, if you want to make your own bibs, you can do it this way: trace an existing bib onto an old t-shirt, leaving some extra space for the seam allowance. Pin the front and back of the t-shirt together, along the traced line. Using a zig-zag stitch (I'm not sure it's strictly necessary to zig-zag. But it sure is fun to say! Zig-zag! Zig-zag!), sew around the line, leaving one end open. Turn the bib inside out (actually right side out), and topstitch around the edge, closing the end you left open. Add ties or a snap or velcro. And then do that forty more times, and you'll have enough bibs for three days (so far, my homemade-bib-count is a grand and lofty One).

Friday, November 07, 2008

Boring? Yes. Useful? Possibly.

Since Cleo's still waking up three or four times a night, I get a lot of practice in going back to sleep. It might be my chronic sleep deprivation, but I think I've worked out a good method over the last few months.

I tried reviewing my day in my head, but that just resulted in anxiety over all the things I hadn't done, and a longer to-do list.

I tried thinking of boring things, like sheep, but it was too boring, and my mind would drift back to the to-do list.

I tried a yoga-style progressive relaxation, but there was too much stuff to remember.

I tried an lengthening-exhalation relaxation I learned in our Hypnobirthing class, but it always made me feel like I wasn't doing it right. Not relaxing.

So, I ended up with a combination of things that works really well for me. Starting with my head and moving south, with each exhalation I say (to myself--no need to wake the whole family) each area of tension. Just the one word per exhalation. And, of course, focus on relaxing that area.

So, like this: Inhale. Exhale forehead. Inhale. Exhale jaw. Inhale. Exhale neck. I'm usually asleep by the knees. If not, I start over at the feet and work up.

It's just enough structure to keep my mind from spinning and drifting, it eases tension without getting too woo-woo about it (no auras or light or mantras to remember). But it's simple enough that my brain can keep doing it even as it's falling asleep.

So, having trouble getting enough sleep? First do the obvious things: cut out caffeine and alcohol, dim the lights in the evening, get some exercise in the afternoon, and don't share your bedroom with an infant. If you've tried all of the above, try my method. Maybe it'll help. Or maybe thinking about how boring this post was will send you to sleep even quicker. Either way, I live to serve.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Easy Thai Curry

Cleo spends most of her time in the sling. She happily looks around or naps, and we both enjoy it. It keeps her with me (or her dad), but frees our hands for other things. It does make working at a table awkward, and bending over is not really practical (I end up doing a lot of squats to pick things up). And some things just aren't safe. So domestic chores are now divided into two categories: Easy With Baby and Hard With Baby.

Easy: putting in a load of laundry
Hard: getting the wet clothes out of the bottom of the washer

Easy: chopping vegetables
Hard: browning vegetables in a super-hot skillet

Easy: eating cooked meat
Hard: handling raw meat

So cooking has changed a bit around here, which is why I'm really happy with this curry recipe. There's enough flavor in the sauce that it's still good even if you don't sear or brown the meat and veg, the work can all be done in stages throughout the day, and any raw-meat handling can be last-minute, while Cleo and her father are telling each other about their days.

1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce to taste)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic (one fewer thing to chop!)
2 tablespoons sugar

vegetables (green beans, red peppers, snow peas, onions, carrots, cauliflower, etc)
protein (we usually use shrimp or beef)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
optional garnishes (cilantro, basil, chopped peanuts, lime wedges, scallions, sliced jalapenos)

Chop all the vegetables. Mix the sauce ingredients together. Do whatever you have to do to the meat: thaw, chop, peel, etc.

The easiest thing to do is to bring the sauce to a boil and throw everything in and simmer until it's all cooked, which might result in some things getting overdone. If you have more time and energy, saute or steam or blanch everything separately. Bring the sauce to a boil and mix all the cooked stuff into the sauce to heat up. Serve with rice and any (or all, or none) of the garnishes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's Over!

The sensible choice last night was to go to bed early as usual, and wait to find out the election results in the morning.

The sensible choice this morning was to have something besides leftover halloween candy for breakfast.

The sensible choice right now is to go on a victory march around the neighborhood.

One out of three is the best I can do right now. Yippee!

(Returning to regular, non-political programming tomorrow. I know I have some readers that disagree with my politics, so thanks for your patience, and a shout-out to McCain for a gracious and thoughtful concession speech)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I have a good feeling about today...

I was starving this morning; but there was leftover pizza!

It's been so gloomy lately; but it was a sunny morning, perfect for a long walk with breakfast and the baby!

I needed two hands to close the door; but my piece of cold pizza balanced perfectly on Cleo's head for a moment!

I only had $1.24 on me (not enough for a coffee); but I found a damp two bucks on the sidewalk!

The last eight years have been grim and horrible; but... but... (fingers crossed)

Monday, November 03, 2008


So I can't just keep calling her The Baby, since eventually she won't be one any more, and very eventually there might even be another one around to confuse things--not that I can imagine such a development now. My memory might be shot from hormones and sleep deprivation, but it's not so shot that I can't remember, say, last night. I will forget eventually, and you'll be able to tell because I'll start entertaining the notion of another little creature to call The Baby.

But I don't want to refer to her by her actual name on here because I have a chronic, low-grade case of Internet Paranoia, and I don't want us to be googlable. This is too bad, because all the funny songs we've been making up for her would be good for at least a couple days of posts this month. Suffice it to say, her name rhymes with dances and enhances and glances and pantses. Extrapolate hilarious lyrics on your own.

So, the need for a pseudonym arises. Since she's an enthusiastic eater with not much finesse or regard for table manners, her meals often end up all over her face and running down her neck. And since her meals are always the same thing, she ends up bathing in milk more often than a certain historical queen. She's also similarly worshiped by her loyal subjects, and her beauty is renowned for blocks around. So, Cleo it is.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Is The Baby Hungry? Three Things to Look For

1. Watch for subtle cues: is she moving her mouth in a way that looks "nursy"? Does she turn towards your finger when you touch her cheek?
2. With practice, you'll be able to hear the difference between her "hungry cry" and other cries.
3. When you pick up the baby, does she firmly grasp your ears, approach your face with a wild look and an open mouth, and attempt to suck your cheek off? This, too, might indicate hunger.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Posting While Nursing, Part One of Thirty (or is it thirty-one?).

What the hell. I'm doing it again. A post every day for the month of November. I know, crazy, right? Well, if I poop out in a few days, I'll have an excellent excuse.

Standards: down.
Quantity: up.
Punctuation and capitalization: possibly spotty
Editing: what?

Here we go...

(and yes, this counts. I meant it about standards going down)