Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Thanks for the sympathy on my pitiful last post. Things have definitely improved. My friend is home from the hospital where she belongs, my grandmother's estate is two weeks closer to settled, and while I can't say there are any positive developments on my mom's health, she hasn't had another Scary Incident either, so that's a good thing.

The last couple of weeks came with their own new challenges - most notably, an incapacitating lack of sleep. I've heard horror stories about perfect sleepers turning into night owls at 10 or 11 months, but for now, I'm clinging to the hope that it's just teething. (Please God, let it be teething.) Of course, this does little to improve my mood at 11pm, or 1am, or our new wake-up time of 4:30am. We've moved bedtime earlier. We've moved it later. We've tried PJs of varying warmth. We've given tylenol. We've withheld tylenol. I know we are soooo lucky with how E normally sleeps - the past week has done nothing if not made us grateful for the past 5 months - but man I'm tired! I think we're also on the cusp of walking, so that may be screwing his sleep up as well.

But enough about that. I've had things on my mind I've intended to post, but the sleep-deprivation is making me feel like I can't express myself. I've been a terrible commenter lately, too. In one instance, I saved a post to reply to "when I had enough time to do it right" and then it got completely outdated and I finally ended up sending a note over email after that thoughtful blogger took her time to check in on ME. In another, I wrote a novel of what I intended to be support, but it just sounded like a bunch of rambling assvice when I read it back to myself so I deleted it without posting. *sigh* I'm going to do better. Maybe.

In other news, I have a new profile picture! It's actually the first time I've ever had one. How totally lame is that? I realize that most of you are probably reading this via some kind of feed so I'll save you the trouble of clicking over to my blog to check it out because, seriously, my blog layout is as boring as it gets and so not worth leaving the highway for. It's a dandelion. Over the past week or so, I've adopted dandelions as a symbol for E, if only in my own mind. I like having symbols for things. I guess a lot of people probably do.

I think it's interesting how these associations form. I'm intrigued by blog nicknames, too. I always wonder how those nicknames came to be. Were they impulsive or the product of an exhaustive brainstorm? Do they stem from an IRL nickname? A hobby? A physical characteristic? I have flirted with the idea of moving to nicknames for M and I, but I can never think of any I like enough. I have one all picked out for Elliot though: The English Muffin. Unfortunately, he's the only one of us that doesn't need a nickname, since I've already shared his name with you. Figures.

So back to the symbols... M and I do dragonflies. Well, that's our symbol, I mean, and it came about in a totally accidental way. When we were planning our wedding, I had a bunch of DIY paper projects and I wanted a rubber stamp I could use on everything to tie it all together. M and I went to the craft store not having any idea what we were looking for but hoping we'd be taken by something. I found a stamp of a dragonfly that seemed pretty and simple so we took it home and it found its way onto most of our wedding elements. It's funny to me to think that we didn't have any particular attachment to dragonflies before that because we sure are swimming in them now. People understandably assumed we were "into" dragonflies since they were featured so prominently in our wedding, and the dragonfly gifts have flooded in ever since. We have dragonfly everything now. Fortunately, I do like dragonflies and I usually like the aesthetic of things dragonflies are featured on, but I think it's funny that this association came about in such an incidental way. I mean, it could have just as easily been starfish or pineapples or a fleur de lis. The art store happened to stock a cool dragonfly stamp, and the rest is history.

And now we have a dandelion in the family, or more precisely, the incarnation of a wish granted. I figured a dandelion was more fitting (or at least more attractive) than a wishbone. :-)  M (our resident gardner) will likely kill me for this and I recognize it lacks originality, but I think it suits him; my very own sweet little wish come true.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fare thee well, 1/12/10

And don't let the door hit you on the way out!

Today was what you might call a Really Lousy Day.

First, I got news of some financial woes at work. No layoffs yet, but they are offering employees the "opportunity" to reduce their work hours... with a corresponding salary decrease. I'd like to say I'd jump at the chance to spend more time home with E, but there is no way we could afford to shave anything off my income. Hopefully this won't progress from "opportunity" to mandate.

Over lunch, I had an aggravating conversation with a co-worker (and new mom) that went something like this:
CW: I read that you can't lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight until you stop breastfeeding.
K: Hmm, that's exactly the opposite of what I experienced. I'm pretty sure I've gained at least 10 pounds since I stopped breastfeeding.
CW: Yeah, your body maintains a fat reserve in case you can't eat for a couple of days or something - that way it can continue to produce milk. Isn't that weird?
K: Very weird, and like I said, it really doesn't fit with what I experienced. That certainly didn't happen for me when I stopped.
CW: You aren't breastfeeding anymore? (Guess I only imagined that I said that a minute earlier.)
K: Nope.
CW: Wow. That really surprises me.
K: Well, it surprises me too, but I didn't have much choice.
CW: Did you just decide to stop?
K: Nope, my body pretty much decided for me.
CW: Huh?
K: Yup, I just stopped producing milk. I didn't want to quit, but...
CW: Hmm, well I'm only going to breastfeed until 6 months anyway, because I really hate pumping and the whole thing is kind of a hassle, and...
When I returned to my desk I told another co-worker (a good friend who overheard the whole exchange) that my day wouldn't be complete without this woman finding a wound to throw some salt into. She's one of those people who is really kind at heart, but she says the most insensitive things without realizing it. I could share a few gems that would blow your mind, but that would turn into a whole other post. I guess I should take her surprise as a compliment - like, that I'm "the kind of person" who would be an extended breastfeeder - but really, it just reminded me that I wasn't able to do something I really wanted to do. Not a big deal, but enough to provide a little sting.

This afternoon, I got news of a good friend in the hospital and I'm really very worried about her. She just had a baby and on top of my concern about her health, I'm heartsick at the thought of her missing her son's first few days at home.

This evening, I found out some distressing news about my grandmother's estate and the distribution of her assets. I worry about the damage this is doing to relationships among my surviving family members. As I told my mom on the phone tonight, the only thing that is good about all of this is that once it is done, we'll never have to do it again. Hopefully we'll all make it through semi-intact.

And the cherry on top came in the form of some news from my mom about her health, and I'm going to leave it at that because this whole thing is just Way Too Scary for me to blog (or even think) about right now.

The bottom line is, it's been a long, emotionally exhausting day and I'm ready for it to be behind me. Here's to tomorrow bringing brighter skies.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

RTS Endorsements: A Booster Shot

The other day, I was thinking about some of the great (and not so great) baby products we’ve discovered since the last time I shared some product reviews. It seemed like a good time to update our previous list, so here you go, in no particular order:

Bumkins SuperBib – I really don’t know how anything else stays on the market. Nothing else we’ve tried can touch ‘em. These are lightweight, waterproof, easy to clean, and provide great coverage. After you use one, you run it under a faucet for all of 10 seconds, wring it out, hang it on a cabinet pull, and it’s ready to go in time for the next meal. They take up zero space in the diaper bag and they are reasonably priced. I can’t say enough good things about them.

Britax Marathon – Regular readers will remember the agony I went through in choosing a convertible car seat. I don’t know why, but the plethora of options available really overwhelmed me in a way no previous baby purchase had. Through relentless research and some great tips received on this blog, we went with the Britax Marathon and couldn’t be happier with it. OK, I couldn’t be happier. M thinks the straps are a little tough to handle at times, but from the reviews I read on other seats, I have a feeling it could be much worse. I found the more neutral patterns hard to compare online, so I will also tell you that we have the Onyx print and it's perfectly inoffensive. The thing that clinched this positive review is the fact that Elliot seems completely comfortable in the seat. This is not the case with the Evenflo seat my mom bought for her car. When he is in that seat, he screams from start to finish. Well, except for when he’s trying to sleep, and I say “trying” because the darn seat is so upright he can’t even sleep in it without someone holding his head so it doesn’t fall forward. I hate that seat, and all of the things I hate most about it make me all the more fond of and grateful for the one we have in our car. If my mom was less than 6 states away, I’d probably spring for one for her car as well. Then I’d take that Evenflo out back with a baseball bat, Office Space style.

Magic Bullet – Yep, the “As Seen On TV” starlet. This has been our go-to gadget when it comes to making our own baby food purees. The one down side is that Elliot comes unglued if he’s within a 25 foot radius (it’s a little loud) but it’s tiny and easy to clean and purees cooked fruits and veggies in about 3 seconds flat. It has weathered intense, almost-daily use for the past four months and it was about three years old when we repurposed it as the baby food machine. My mom was so impressed by it on her last visit, she asked for one for Christmas and we were happy to find that Costco has a package that gives you a lot more for your dollar. Even if you can't take advantage of that deal, I still think it's a good investment. You'll still be using it for smoothies, sauces, hummus, etc. long after you're done using it for baby food. (Side recommendation: Pastry bags for putting sweet potatoes, squash, and other thicker foods into ice cube trays for freezing. M and I stumbled into this idea the other night and, ahhhh…. Bliss!)

So.ft S.tar Shoes – Full disclosure: I know the person who owns this company. We’re not BFF’s or anything, but we’re friendly enough that I feel I need to own up to our association. We’re NOT friendly enough that I would falsify a good review for her. Elliot has a pair of wo.olies and OMG they are the coolest freaking shoes ever. And by cool, I mean super-warm and stylish to boot. (I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress. Barf.) They have elastic in the ankles with a little cinch-clasp-thingie which makes them virtually impossible for Elliot to take off, and this is a kid with mad footwear removal skills. I can’t wait until he’s walking so we can try some of the other styles. (Note on this one: I didn’t provide a link because if the owner was to find her way back to this blog, she’d know instantly who I am and - with carefully selected exceptions - I generally try to keep my online and offline lives separate. So, if you google them and get yourself some awesome shoes – which you should – please don’t say you heard about them on this blog, unless you know my real name in which case I would be delighted for you to use that to tell them I referred you. Thank you in advance for indulging my neuroses.)

Kidkusion Hearth Kushion - We haven’t had great luck with many baby-proofing products yet. We’ve tried these and these and this, all with disappointing results, but the Kidkusion Hearth Kushion? That, my friends, is one useful piece of foam. Well… three useful pieces, actually. We have a particularly hazardous raised brick hearth in our living room (a.k.a the room we spend 98% of our waking home hours in) and M and I were pretty sure we’d be stuck duct taping a heavy blanket around it or buying E a helmet or both. M read some reviews online and determined we should give this one a try before dooming our son to unattractive head gear and I am so glad we did! It has thick padding and stays on really well. Elliot “walks” back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth) along the hearth and it doesn’t budge. The other day, I witnessed his head bouncing squarely off the corner, which caused my heart to skip a beat but he didn’t even notice it. Our family gives it six thumbs up.

Here’s one thing I don’t recommend – the Graco Travel Lite crib. The primary reason we opted for this one over a full-size PNP is so it would be easier to travel with, because we travel A LOT. (Elliot has been on 6 round trip flights and 2 road trips so far.) The full-size PNPs are so heavy and cumbersome. Well, we were right, the Travel Lite is lighter for travel. It adds exactly zero pounds to our luggage because we don’t take it anywhere. Elliot grew out of it (like, head and feet pressed against the mesh at top and bottom) by the time he was six months old. To be fair, we still needed this or something like it for those first couple of months when E slept in our room. We have a serious shortage of floor space in our bedroom and it was cheaper than a fancy co-sleeper. However, if you have the bedroom real estate to accommodate a full-size PNP, I suggest you start there. Do not be fooled into thinking this will be the lightweight travel crib of your dreams or you will end up like us, with yet another extinct piece of baby gear in your basement, trying to decide if you should bite the bullet and buy a full-size now, or continue to limp by using borrowed/improvised fixes everywhere you go.

In looking back at my previous post, I realized that I never wrote anything about cloth diapering. Hmmm. I really should get back to that sometime.

So there you have it: Another unsolicited report of my entirely subjective and unempirical findings. Do with it what you will!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Looking for ideas

We've landed in finger food land, and we're having trouble meeting the natives.

Elliot is all about feeding himself these days and I feel like we're stuck in a rut on offerings. He's got a great pincer grip, but he's not a superstar chewer/swallower just yet. Part of this is due to the fact he only has two teeth, but mostly it's because he prefers filling his cheeks like a chipmunk to swallowing the large quantities of food he eagerly puts into his mouth. We've started putting only a piece or two of food on his tray at a time and trying to wait for him to swallow that before we give him another one, but he fakes us out sometimes. Last night, I watched him like a hawk and made sure to check his mouth between bites and I STILL found half a dozen pieces of chicken breast in his mouth after I took him out of his highchair. This boy could give any psych med cheeker a run for their money. But all of this is a tangent and not what I came here for advice on - I'm sure this will sort itself out as he gets more practice eating chunky foods.

What I'm looking for are suggestions on what you feed (or fed) your new finger-food eater? So far, we have tried: Cheerios, Rice Krispies, steamed apple, peaches, banana, peas, chicken, pasta noodles, crackers, and our favorite discovery to date - veggie Pirate's Booty*. I'd love to give him avocado but he hates it, despite repeated exposure. Ditto for cooked carrots. I know he's supposed to be able to eat other steamed veggies but the couple we've tried in chunk form (sugar snap peas and broccoli - the same ones we were eating at the time) were too fibrous for him to break down. We're going to keep experimenting. I have cantaloupe, zucchini and acorn squash on deck. I just thought I'd put the question out there and see what tips the wise Internets could provide.

*If you haven't tried this, consider it my contribution to the brainstorm. It's big and firm so it's easy to pick up, but it dissolves easily in their mouths and Elliot LOVES it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

one from the vault

But before that...

I wrote and posted so quickly last night, I forgot to thank you all for your insightful comments (and name compliments :-) ) on my previous post. I should have known that not only would you totally "get it", you'd help me to make more sense of it all as well. You guys rock.

I decided over the weekend to start trying to tag (or "label" as blogger would have me call it) my archives. I'm approaching post #300 and it's getting harder and harder for me to even remember what I've written, let alone find anything useful in the heap of words in my wake. It'll be a slow process, I'm sure, but I've started it. While doing so, I revisited some old posts including this one.

March 14, 2008. A Friday. An unremarkable day, but for the trial embryo transfer I had that morning.

It made me feel all warm and fuzzy to know that I was observing Elliot Day even before it was Elliot Day. For the rest of my life, March 14th will be a day that belongs to our son, and on that day, even before it was That Day, it was already all about him. I was taking yet another step in the journey of creating him. If only I'd known that morning. Can you imagine what it would have felt like if someone had sat down next to me in the waiting room and said "Don't worry. This is all going to be worth it. Exactly one year from this very moment, you will be in a hospital bed a few blocks away, having given birth to a beautiful baby boy only hours earlier." It gives me goosebumps to think of it.

We truly never know what is right around the corner, do we? The person who wrote that post on 3/14/08 could barely dare to dream what 3/14/09 would bring.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

9 months = good times

I am lovin' me some nine-month-old right now. Elliot has become so darn fun lately! He plays actual games with us now. He will glance at us with a twinkle in his eye, then crawl away quickly and dissolve into laughter when we catch him by the ankle. We have a coffee table with an open shelf underneath it and if we peek at him over the table, then lean down and look through the shelf (with him standing on the other side), he will crouch down and "find" us through the shelf, then giggle hysterically. Today he made up a game where he put a measuring spoon next to M's mouth and she pretended to gobble it up and he was laughing so hard my eyes were watering. He gives hugs and kisses and he lights up when he sees us as if he just won the lottery. He claps his hands, shakes his head, and "dances" to music. My submission for cutest thing of all? He crosses his ankles, like, all the time. He'll crawl across the floor then flip himself into a sitting position and - boom - ankles crossed in practically the same movement. Sometimes he'll uncross them then cross them back right away with the opposite foot on top. Even when we're rocking him to sleep, he lays in our laps with his ankles crossed. It makes him look like such a little person. The older he gets, the more the balance shifts from More Work to More Fun, and I'm really loving where we're at these days.

A few days ago, he started saying "ma ma ma ma..." all the time, but I don't think he's connected it to us yet. He's definitely starting to get it, though. He makes a hard K sound whenever he sees the cats, so in that case,  he's totally got the association down, but he can't say the full word "kitty" just yet.

My other favorite things he does now is turning the pages of the books we read him. He's been doing it for a couple of weeks and I'm still as amazed by it as I was the first time he did it. Sometimes he gets overly excited and tries to turn before we finish reading the page to him, but he obviously gets the concept. There's one special trick he does that completely knocks my socks off: We have one book where all of the pages turn normally, but when you get to the last 2 pages, they both open out from the center to make a panoramic spread. Elliot knows this and as soon as we turn to that page on that particular book, he doesn't grab the right edge as he has on all the other pages, but instead reaches directly for the center seam and tries to open the flaps. We, on the other hand, hurry to stop him because unlike the rest of the pages which are made of thick cardboard, the fold-out pages are just heavy paper and he's already ripped one of them. :-( Anyway, nine months old - not bad, right?*

Of course with all of this personality emerging all over the place, we're getting the flip side, too. He's started throwing what I can only assume are a preview of what his toddler tantrums will be like. Take something away from him or remove him from an area he wants to be in? Watch out. He arches his back, sticks out the lower lip, and SCREAMS. He may have had pneumonia just after birth but his lungs are operating at 100% now. I can't wait until he's walking so he can dramatically fling himself to the floor for extra effect!

*Geez, how original. A post by a mom who thinks her kid is sooo smart and sooo advanced. Maybe all the other nine months olds can do this stuff and more with one arm behind their backs, but I still think we've got a pretty awesome party trick on our hands,