Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

I've posted a new photo album on our photoblog. Click here to check it out. Also, notice the new link to our photoblog on the right side of the page. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More time than money

A few frugal activities from the past few weeks:
  • Laundry detergent: We made our own laundry detergent. And it works. Click here for the "recipe." It doesn't smell as nice as regular laundry detergent, but it does clean the clothes. Jim commented that people probably don't think their clothes are clean unless the clothes come out heavily scented. I'll add an essential oil, like tea tree or lavender, to the next batch. Added bonus: Tea tree oil is a germicide.

  • Microwave popcorn: Yep, a paper bag, a quarter cup of popcorn kernels, a teaspoon of oil and a stapler. Voila! Click here for instructions.

  • Homemade gnocchi: 2 potatoes, 3/4 of cup of flour, 1 egg, about 45 pieces of gnocchi. Yum!

  • Homemade baby food: 1 large organic sweet potato, $1.49, 1-16 oz bag of organic frozen green beans, $2.49. Cook veggies and puree - Voila! A week's worth of lunches or dinners. Compare that to .79 cents for a 3 to 4 ounce jar of organic baby food.

  • Homemade baby cereal: Take dry brown rice, oatmeal or millet and grind it in a clean coffee grinder. Works great and it's a lot cheaper. Baby oatmeal at about a quarter an ounce, regular oatmeal ground in a coffee grinder, 6 cents an ounce. Duh.

  • Eyebrow waxing alternative: Normally, an eyebrow wax costs me $12. Instead, I've started using maximum strength Orajel to numb my eyebrows before I tweeze. Orajel: $5.99.

  • Homemade dishwashing detergent: Half borax, half washing soda mixed together in a mason jar. Put some lemon juice or vinegar in the rinse cycle for extra shine. It costs pennies. At Sam's, Cascade costs nearly $8 for about 80 ounces. I pay $3.29 for washing soda, $1.99 for borax and can make both dish and laundry detergent that will last quite a while.

As you can see, I have more time than money. Oh, and did I mention that it's kind of fun, too?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What do you DO all day?

Thankfully, my husband has never asked. But in this morning's paper, some saucy little 20-something twit asked what stay-at-home moms do all day. Luckily, she asked my favorite snarky columnist, Carolyn Hax. One word sums up her lovely answer: Constant.

And that's what it is. She writes "It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier." The twit thinks we sit around on our bums all day, relaxing.

Yet contrary to the rest of society's idea of motherhood, this is not a thankless job. I get to spend all day with someone who adores me, smiles every time he sees me and wants me to hold, rock, sing, nap and play with him all day. I'm pretty sure if you're boss wanted these things, it would constitute sexual harassment.

One of the biggest mistakes of 20th century was letting the job of mothers be denigrated. In pursuit of equality, women were led to believe a job had to pay money. There's much better currency than money in this job.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Always clean the hands first

Here's Dan, after a meal of peas. We've learned the hard way to clean his hands first, then his face.

As you can see, he's not really fond of peas. He puts the blob of peas on the roof of his mouth and sticks out his tongue. We're not going to feed him peas anymore.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sleep or solitude?

That's a tough choice. Danny goes to bed between 9 and 10 p.m. and usually sleeps until 4:30 a.m. If I went to bed with him and my husband, I'd get up to seven hours of sleep in a row!

At least three nights a week, I'm up until 1 a.m. because of my job. The other four nights I find myself here - blogging and doing some personal writing - until 1 a.m. at the latest. It's so nice to have a quiet house to myself.

One of my late night projects has been to create a new Web page for photos, favorite links and videos. Click here to visit our new site!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The ultimate goal?

As I passed the magazine recycling bin at work Saturday, two magazines stared up at me: one was Glamour and the other, Woman's Day. I remember when Glamour magazine was relevant to my life (if only in my mind). But, alas, articles about going-out hair (when do I go out anymore??) and bargain summer dresses (that only fit size 1 models and which my son would promptly puke all over) really aren't my thing. So I picked up Woman's Day. Must-have recipes, energy boosters and how to get a flat belly (with NO SIT UPS!!!) are just more relevant these days.

An article dubbed "Motherhood in 2007" contained a question.

What's your ultimate goal for your children?

1,000 women responded. Here's the breakdown:
  • 83 percent: That they get into a good college and have rewarding careers.
  • 12 percent: That they get married and have kids.
  • 5 percent: That they move out of my house.
Now, I realize that the answers were likely chosen by Woman's Day. But why limit your ultimate goals for your children to two narrow views of what constitutes happiness? As my husband pointed out, the choices are more of a product of good living than a goal.

First of all, college and a rewarding career don't ensure happiness, nor do marriage and kids. What bugs me most about the answers is that it inculcates the absurd notion that everyone should go to college or have kids or get married.

College is not for everyone, no matter what John Edwards says. For a lot of students, college is like high school with more alcohol and less supervision. Graduate school has become the new undergrad and a place for twenty-somethings to hide from the work force. Just to clarify, an undergraduate or graduate degree that prepares a person for a specific career is useful. There are a host of careers for which higher education and training is appropriate: doctors, nurses, counselors, lawyers, journalists, engineers, architects. A five-year degree in liberal studies with no career plans is useless. And once you get your degree, there's no guarantee you will have a rewarding career.

And, marriage and kids? Where do I start? That may be another post entirely! I'll leave it at this: There is virtue in being single and childless.
[Jumping off my soap box now]
How about this for an ultimate goal? We want our son to be content with whatever he chooses to do, and, of course, we do want him to eventually move out of our house.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A healthy, CHEAP organic snackie

On my new favorite web site, Instructables, I found instructions for making microwave popcorn. And no, the instructions don't include going to the grocery store to purchase microwave popcorn. Click here to be enlightened.

I tried this and it worked. Silly me, I thought that microwave popcorn kernels were specially treated so they would pop in the microwave. Instead of paying $3.00 for 3 bags of microwave popcorn with hydrogenated oil, too much salt and God knows what kind of preservatives, I paid .99 for bulk organic popcorn at Whole Foods, borrowed some brown paper lunch bags from mom and used (healthy) oil, salt and butter on hand in the house.

A one pound bag of kernels yields about 2 1/2 cups. I used a quarter cup of kernels for my evening snackie. So ... instead of paying $1 per bag of microwave popcorn, I paid 10 cents per "bag" of microwave popcorn. Add a few cents per "bag" for butter, salt, oil, the staples and the bags and you have about an 85 percent savings over the store-bought concoction. The popcorn tastes great and you can season it any way you like! Try it, I promise the staples won't ignite in the microwave.

And speaking of cheap, I found this "recipe" on my other new favorite Web site: laundry soap. Check it out at thesimpledollar.com. We made some this morning and we're waiting for it to turn into a gel. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Friday before Mother's Day

Hallmark holidays annoy me. Retailers are the only people truly enriched by these kinds of holidays. These retailers assume that your heart strings are attached your wallet. I'd like to think my heart strings are attached to something more substantial.

Don't get me wrong, it's nice to be appreciated. It's even nicer to be appreciated more than once a year. Then again, I know that I'm a good mom and that I do the best job possible. If someone else thinks so, and happens to tell me on Mother's day or any other day, that's great. These days, I'm not in search of praise or appreciation. Here's what I really want, at least once a week:
  • eight hours of sleep
  • an hour with the Sunday paper
  • a few hours in my garden
Of course, it goes without saying that these hours would be uninterrupted! And no retailer can cash in on that.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Six a night and one a day ...

Dan slept for six and a half hours in a row last night. This is what my life has become ... enumerating the number of hours he sleeps and the frequency of his poops. We're back to once a day now, just in case you were interested. It's weird being intimately aware of another person's bodily functions. I routinely clean his ears while he's nursing. I caught myself picking his nose the other day, but haven't yet done the mommy-spit wash maneuver.

I've posted some new photos of Dan on our photo blog. Click here to check it out!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Am I hallucinating?

Here's my philosophy: If Dan does something once, it's a fluke. If it happens twice in a row, I'm probably hallucinating. If it happens three times, it becomes something I can somewhat, sort of, kind of rely on. Maybe.

So, tonight, for the second night in a row, he's gone down to sleep after fussing for a few minutes. We haven't had to go up and comfort him.

In other Dan-related news, he has learned how to blow spit bubbles and make the spit noise. He practices this pretty often. Tonight, he practiced when I was feeding him peas and carrots. I got splattered in the face. He's got a pretty good aim and range.

Also, he's starting to show a preference for certain foods. He loves bananas, applesauce, yogurt, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots and avocado. He hated oatmeal, he actually spit it out and yelled at us when we tried it. Rice cereal, peas and peas with carrots are also not favorites. He stuck his tongue out, full of peas and carrots, and looked at us as if to say "Why are you doing this to me?" I had to trick him into eating by dipping the peas/carrots into applesauce.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Consistently inconsistent

Each night, bedtime is different. Sometimes Dan goes right down and sleeps for five or six hours. Other nights, it's an all night battle to get him to stay in his crib. The one thing I have been able to count on is daily nap times. Morning from 11ish to 12ish and afternoon from 2:30ish to 4:00ish.

Today, I had a plan (big mistake). I called a girlfriend who lives up the block. After our boys' naps, we were going to meet for a walk. I put him in his crib, he was sleepy ... napping did not ensue. No sense forcing sleep on a babe who isn't sleepy. So, out we go, to the post office and the grocery store. Fussy, fussy, fussy ... then he falls asleep on the way home and sleeps from 1ish to 2ish.

Fast forward to after our walk, he fusses while I'm trying to get dinner ready - his and ours. Then I nurse him and he falls fast asleep at around 6:00. I just fixed dinner for a child who is now fast asleep. Oh, well, at least we got a nice quiet dinner out of it.

Later, after his dinner, he was wired, shrieking, talking, rolling around, grabbing at the dog, grabbing at my hair ... I thought, "There's no way this kid is going to sleep." I put him in his crib with night-night bear, turned on the sound machine (ocean waves!), and he fussed and cried. Tonight, I finally just let him cry. There was nothing I could do for him, he had been fed, changed, burped, cuddled, and loved. It took five minutes and now all is quiet.

I'm no fool. This probably won't happen again for at least another week. The thing I miss the most from my childless days is consistency.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Salsa baby ...

Tonight we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant. And we took the kid with us. Since Dan has started eating real food, he often looks at us much like the dog does whenever we're eating ... which is to say, "You gonna give me some of that, right?" And my mother swears Danny got excited when she opened the fridge last weekend.

So, I nursed him before we left for the restaurant. I hadn't planned on feeding him dinner until we got back, if he was even interested at all. Sometimes, he just isn't. Right now we're just experimenting with different tastes and textures. He won't really need more calories until he's about six months old.

While there, I decided to give him a few fingerfuls of the guacamole. He does like avocados. Jim gave a him a fingerful of refried beans, which he heartily lapped up. Then Jim thought it would be a good idea to give him a taste of salsa. No reaction, at first. About a minute after the second spot of salsa, his face turned red and he began to fuss.

I hope we haven't scarred him for life.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Breathtaking logic

From an opinion piece in The News & Observer about the failure of abstinence-only education:

"The believers [abstinence education proponents] continue to insist abstinence is the only 100 percent sure way to prevent pregnancy and disease. But 95 percent of Americans have sex before marriage. In real life that's a 95 percent failure rate."

This paragraph is strikingly illogical and it was written by a celebrated female columnist. The writer is essentially saying that because 95 percent of Americans have sex before marriage that abstinence fails to prevent pregnancy and disease. The failure of Americans to practice abstinence is a failure of the abstinence education, some would argue. But I don't think anyone can successfully argue that abstinence can ever fail to prevent disease and pregnancy.

You can't accidentally get pregnant or accidentally get a sexually transmitted disease if you don't have sex. And to date, there's been only one virgin birth and some would even debate that.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Let's play ... A year ago today

A year ago, I was eating cottage cheese and cucumbers when I wasn't puking my guts out and wondering whether I'd have a five-month-old boy or girl in a year. On certain occasions, I'd turn to Jim and say, "Do you realize we'll have a [insert age here]-month-old in a year?" But it's not clear what I then imagined this would be like.

Now, five months into it, all of this was and is still beyond my wildest imagination - the pregnancy, labor and birth, the fog of the first few months, and those wonderful days when he picks up new skills, smiles a little wider, laughs a little louder, plays a little longer, talks a little more.

Eating the newspaper and other skills

I used to be able to read the paper while Danny rolled around on his bedroom floor. But these days, he is interested in whatever I'm doing. This week, it's the newspaper. Not to read, but to eat. Everything goes in his mouth and this morning it was the sports section. Jim is a little nervous about this new habit, afraid of all the germs, I guess. The best I can do is remove the choking hazards as I can't spend all day preventing him from doing what he and all babies his age do. Between the breast milk and all the stuff that goes in his mouth, I figure he'll be immune to just about everything.

We're also noticing that Danny is very, VERY strong. He's been able to bear weight on his legs since he was about two months old. If we prop him up at the coffee table, he'll balance there without assistance. Of course, our hands are always about an inch from his trunk. He can stand for a few seconds while holding just one finger. He can also take a few steps while he hangs onto my fingers.

Danny has also started scooting across the floor. When I returned from starting laundry Monday, he was three feet from where I left him on the floor of his room. He can push his bum and belly off the floor, but his arms aren't too strong. His legs do all the work.

And he loves to kick. This isn't really surprising since when I was pregnant, my stomach felt bruised. His latest favorite activity is kicking his feet against the side of his crib or the side of the bookshelf in his room. I'm afraid he's going to hurt his feet or break the crib, but it doesn't seem to bother him.

Foods he's tried lately: Carrots and butternut squash. He's had no adverse reactions yet to any of the food. So far, his favorites seem to be yogurt and applesauce. He really liked the sweet potatoes, but after the sweet poo-tato incident, I'm afraid, very afraid.

Scary moment of the day: My biggest fear these days is getting hurt when I'm alone with the baby. Well, today it finally happened. I got a steam burn on my fingers. And if you've ever had a steam burn, you know how much pain I was in. Luckily, he was in a good mood. If he was cranky or screaming, I would have panicked. I wound up in bed with my two burned fingers in a bowl of ice water and him sleeping (thankfully) next to me.