Sunday, December 25, 2011


Two days, two months; oh well. I have so much to feel guilty for; I won't add this blog to the list.

Merry Christmas! It's a bit chilly outside, but my snow peas and mustards are doing great. Even the broccoli appears to be growing. Sweet potato vines, alas, do not hold up well to the brisk wind that passes for autumn here in Houston. Drought? They thrived. But heavens, not a temp under 80!

I woke early and made a pan of cinnamon rolls and two loaves of fresh bread for Christmas breakfast. While waiting for the rolls to rise, I washed and put away the dishes from last night's dinner and washed this morning's bread dishes. I have no idea what to cook to go with the cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Eggs and sausage, I guess. I'd rather have nothing at all but the cinnamon rolls, but if I don't have at least a little protein with the junk, I might as well plan to lay in bed and lose the whole day. 

I have a huge ham sitting on the stovetop waiting to be stuffed into the oven for late Christmas luncheon.  Mark requested asparagus to go with Formal Christmas Dinner, and Burgundy wanted green bean casserole and macaroni and cheese. I have a great recipe from my friend Tiff for mac & cheese, so those four meager things will comprise our family meal.

The rolls are risen, as is Holden, whose cranky whine of indignation has alerted me to the unacceptably milkless condition of his nearly one-year-old existence. Even though I'd rather blog about Burgundy's wonderful Sweet 16 party, I'll go turn on the oven, cook breakfast, and feed the baby. Such is life, and it is good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby Symphony

It has taken me weeks of thinking and planning to bring myself back here. Holden learned to say Mama, Dada, Teeteetee (Sissy), sprouted 4 teeth, began imitating his Grandmother's cough and laughing like a loon. At each milestone, I thought of how I'd immortalize it, what I'd say to preserve the moment forever on the Internet. My days are filled with loads of diaper wash and hours of errands in the car, and one minute, hour and day bleeds into the next until the moment is gone, and I indulge in the wistful self-flagellation of my Baptist upbringing without ever actually doing anything to fix it.

This morning Mark let me sleep an extra hour, Holden snuggled softly against me, for once not demanding my breast in his sleep. At 8:30, I dragged myself into consciousness, and as we said goodbye to Daddy, I heard the wind howling around the house. There's a blissful chill outside today, and by blissful chill, I mean that with the wind, it might be in the low 70s out here. So I made myself a mocha, and I'm sitting on the swing, sipping the dregs and watching my sweet son, my boy-no-longer-an-infant, play in the flower garden at creating a scale model of the Desolation of Armageddon.

He's standing with help from furniture, knees, the dog, and hapless vegetation doomed to wilt under his weight. He surfs from edge to handhold to couch and back, and just today I think he mastered the art of squatting and standing up in one motion, using only the pole of the swing to keep his one-handed balance. A couple of days ago, He began sitting upright on his knees, realizing that it was a faster route to standing up than sitting on his butt.

He touches new things with only his index finger, eyebrows furrowed and lower lip sucked into his mouth until he decides he needs the additional experience of tasting and gumming the object. I try to keep the house clean, but Saturday I swear to God I found a man's toenail clipping in his mouth.

Burgundy loves school, and a good thing, because it's her whole life right now. Her first nine weeks' grades are finalized, and she has 4 As (100, 99, 99 and 90) and 3 Bs (86, 85, and 82). She's taking six out of 7 classes at the college level; I'm very impressed with her drive.

She's learning that life is full of setbacks and people who just don't care about your story. I guess I'm learning that, too. It's so difficult to see people treating your child unfairly or even with fair disregard. In my world, she'll never be just another kid with a late paper and a good story. It's vitally important though, so when she made the decision not to extend an appeal against what I thought was an unfair penalty, I honored it.

I want more than anything to storm the front office of the school with a broomstick in one arm and a baby in the other, hair wild and reeking of baby poop and sour milk and demand that they adjust the grade. Or. Else. It's her decision though, and if I'm honest, it's probably the right one. She has to work with this teacher the rest of the year, and the teacher did not count off as much as she could have.

My house is a mess. I have about 7/8 of a warp wound for a weaving project. There's a bright, clean patch on the library rug where the dog took a dump. Mark shampooed the carpet. Just that spot. I hesitate to do more than giggle about it because if I'd had to do it, Mark eventually would have had to clean up both vomit and dog crap.

Holden pulls every object off of every surface he can reach, and I must be on constant, high alert for his ginger exploration of sundry electrical plugs with his baby index finger. So far, there has been very little oral exploration. He did manage to get enough slobber in the end of my MacBook plug that I had to buy a new one.

I volunteer with Burgundy's Class of 2013 Booster Club. We're raising funds to throw the kids the best Project Graduation party ever. As of right now, I haven't done nearly enough, but I'm working on a fundraiser next week (we're selling BBQ sandwiches at lunch), and I have several thank you notes to write on behalf of the elected board.

I have gone so far as to reserve the venue for Burgundy's sweet 16. We're having a masquerade ball, and I found a banquet hall that seats 300 (no, she's not inviting even half that many) for $150 on a weeknight. Her birthday is December 18, so we're holding the ball on Monday, December 19. First day of Christmas break. I'm really looking forward to this; I think it will be awesome.

I've enjoyed writing; alas, my list of things to do is long and detailed, and I am having my hair cut in less than an hour. My son is exploring the detritus in the cracks of our sidewalk, and I really should eat something besides chocolate and milk for breakfast. Until next time (and praying that will be tomorrow).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Now

I'm overwhelmed; I'm not ashamed to say so. I begin to fear that I will not get even half of what's important done, much less everything. This sense, I'm certain, is exacerbated by the fact that I spend a goodly portion of my day killing zombies with watermelons, cabbages, corn, and peas playing video games one particular video game on my cell phone.

Holden is sitting up with very little assistance. That is, I have to sit him up and make sure he has something to lean against, but he's practicing holding himself upright. Even now, he's sitting beside me on the couch, munching on his sock monkey, and he's been doing so for a good ten minutes.

Burgundy is home this week, and we put the kibosh on most all social stuff so that she and I could get to work on her academic stuff, cleaning the house, and preparing for her mission trip next week with the U.M. A.R.M.Y.  She spent this morning updating her online resume and choosing which scholarship she wants to apply for this week. We're going to apply for one, no matter how small, every week until school starts. After that, we'll re-evaluate.

I'm finally pulling together Holden's birth announcement, and I want to mail it before his six-month birthday. So I have . . . less than two weeks. Holy crap.

We have let him taste several solid foods over the last couple of weeks. Banana was the most rousing failure. He continues to blanch and shudder for several minutes after every taste. Oddly, the most successful so far has been a lemon wedge. He lunges for the wedge when we eat out, and he cries when he drops it. I think it feels good on his (as-yet unrevealed) teeth, but that doesn't explain his indifference toward oranges and lime.

Right now, I have tons more work to do, and so little time left! Just wanted to pop in and say I'm still alive!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Holden bounces like this every morning. He wakes, we nurse, and after a diaper change, I put him in the bouncer. He spends the next half hour (often more) burning off energy in true boy fashion. God help me when he goes mobile.

I made a mocha this morning, and I'm sipping it slowly while working on this blog entry. I fell off the housework wagon. I even fell off the keeping-up-with-the-laundry wagon. Right now, I just want to make my bed for a few days in a row. And slow way down on the sugar. I am a grown-up, yes. That does not mean I may eat Oreos for breakfast.

I bought a weaving loom. Upstairs Studio, a local fiber arts store (so much more than just yarn), took two floor looms on consignment. The smaller of the two holds up to 20 yards of woven fabric up to 60" wide. I decided to give up my table loom (24" wide) and my spinning wheel in order to buy it. I need to sell both, and I'll list them on Ravelry today. It's going to be difficult to say goodbye to the wheel, but I know in my heart that I just didn't "click" with spinning. I still have a lovely two or three drop spindles and plenty of fiber, so I'm sure all will be well.

I bought the loom because I've always had an interest in weaving, and I've decided to try my hand at plaid. My little brother wants a kilt; ultimately, I'd love to be able to weave him a true kilt in his family colors.

Meanwhile, I need to finish a pair of slippers I agreed to knit on commission (just about halfway done), and I have no idea on what project I'd like to work next. I still have a pair of socks on the needles, and I recently pulled out the 936 granny squares I've crocheted over the last 12 years to make an afghan. Also, several friends are crocheting another afghan, so I felt compelled to buy the yarn to make it, too. Meanwhile, Holden needs socks, and I want to start on a sweater for which I bought the yarn last November, also for Holden.

Right now, though, I guess I'd better rotate the laundry and make my bed. I can do anything for 5 minutes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

School's [Almost] Out for the Summer

Burgundy, smart little monkey that she is, earned exemption from all of her core classes' final exams. She had to take Band, Introduction to Education and Training, and German II. Band did not actually have a final exam, and the final grade for IET was a project they put together in class throughout the semester. I am sitting in a comfy chair at Starbucks, amusing Holden and typing while Burgundy works with her tutor to prepare for the German test, and after tomorrow, she is free.

Holden stares hopelessly out the window, contemplating
potential uses for his amazing toejam.
Holden's hair is starting to thicken, and I've noticed glints of golden at certain angle. At present, he's cramming a stuffed elephant into his mouth and drooling copiously. I'm rather impressed with his powers of drool. However, his truly astonishing superpower is toejam production. I never thought a baby could have icky feet, but holy God, Holden's sweaty feet rival my own. Sometimes they merely clam up. Others, he produces a veritable sweat slick more slimy than an athlete's. He produces toejam from thin air, and when be-socked, he produces vegetation. I swear, he makes lint-infused toejam vines. I don't really nom his sweet feet anymore.

Burgundy's hair reaches halfway down her back. Her lithe figure is that of a self-assured young woman. She smiles, and the young men fall before her like wheat before a scythe. Her summer promises a time of reflection and fun. She and I are going to take cooking classes and attend a woman's Bible study together. She'll take her first college-level class at the local community college; it's a speech class. We also need to enroll her to audit a calculus class in preparation for the AP Calculus class next year.

I think I've decided to go ahead with enrolling her at the other high school for the 2011-12 school year. That school has had a number of problems this year, so I am not certain of the wisdom of this decision, but I think it will at least place Burgundy back in the peer group for which she has pined so relentlessly the past two years.

And now, I have lunch to eat before my beautiful son decides he must be held.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Housework Lists

Mark is gone on travel this week, so Burgundy, Holden and I are throwing parties and living the high life in the absence of his sobering aspect. Last night, Burgundy and I played Ghost Parcheezi. It's where you put all the colors on the board, and each player gets an extra set of players to manipulate. When we have three players, everyone takes turns manipulating the one ghost player. It can get wicked and quickly.

After Ghost Parcheezi, Hannah and Christi came over, and we engaged in yarny arts while hanging out. Burgundy studied for her Chemistry test. Holden had naked time and refrained from assaulting anyone with his urine.

This morning, I had an appointment with the doctor, and I stopped into the firm where we do our retirement investing. I still need to rollover my Roth 401K from the last job into my Roth IRA. Now Holden is napping, and I'm trying to decide whether to nap myself or do some more housework. I feel as though I will never catch up on the housework; ironically, it makes me even more determined at least to maintain what I've done so far. Happily, with school being out after next week, Burgundy is a little more able to help. A good thing, all in all.

I think that for today, I'll finish the diapers and start another load. I'll clean the Kitchen and do the Half-hour Housework Maintenance (H3M). I'll sort the mail and spend some time, maybe 10 minutes, on my desk. And somewhere in there, I'll take a nap. Oh, and I'll call the exterminators, because the darned fleas are here.


  • H3M: Both bathrooms cleaned
  • H3M: Both bathrooms + kitchen swept
  • H3M: Spot cleaned kitchen floor
  • Kitchen clean-up: Emptied recycling, cleaned up trash everywhere, moved all dirty dishes to the sink, put away food
  • Mail sorted
  • Diapers washed
  • Change sheets and make bed (Holden barfed on the sheets I had just changed following his decision to pee on my pillow the other day)
  • Wash dishes and put away clean dishes
To-do (and here I thought I'd done so much already:
  • 10 minutes on desk
  • Vacuum carpets
  • Sweep living room and hallways
  • 2 minutes on crap-magnet
  • Grocery shopping

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Monday

This morning, I've enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee - a vanilla latte that I made myself at home - and spent some time gazing out the kitchen window into my awfully overrun backyard and garden. Holden sat in his Bumbo seat for a time, staring with me and chewing on his teddy bears. He tired quickly, though, so I transferred him to his swing. He graciously played in the swing for a few minutes, really just long enough for me to work up the desire to start a post. Now he's crying in earnest and beating the toy bar on the swing with fat, enraged, impotent little fists. I guess I'll go change his diaper.

Well that was an adventure in parenting self-confidence. First of all, Holden's diaper contained a considerable amount of poop. I mean, I'm pretty sure an adult male gorilla could have produced more, but I wouldn't actually lay a wager on it. So the poor kid had to sit in a diaper full of poop and wail and beat his fists against his swing in true furious despair to drag my attention away from the admittedly fascinating sight of my backyard. I mean, I've only lived here for seven years. Something in the backyard might have changed last night, and I needed to stare at it to know for sure.

Then, as I sweet-talked to him and wiped the poo off his poor little butt, I realized he wasn't cooing back. I glanced up to see him peeing into his mouth. Yes. I allowed my son to pee into his own mouth.

Yes, thank you all for voting for me for parent of the year. I'm so proud to have been selected and to stand as an example for all pa... what? You were voting me out of the running? Automatic disqualification?

I kinda feel like I should explain or make it better somehow. I mean, it all happened very fast. I don't think he got more than a couple of swallows. But then I realized that you know? It doesn't really matter how much or little urine was involved. My son just peed into his own mouth. I am both horrified and a little proud.

I had planned for this post to be a happy discussion of how I am coming along in the organization and planning, improving little by little. I think instead I'll go make another latte, but this time I'm adding liquor.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


It feels great to get back into the swing of things. I enjoy setting my own agenda and managing my day, accomplishing the goals I set to improve my home.

I didn't finish out my list yesterday, and it's tempting to feel like I'm behind. However, once I started on the game cabinet yesterday, I knew I wouldn't finish most of the rest of my stuff. I really wish I had taken a "before" picture. About halfway through the job, I wanted nothing more than to stuff everything back into the cabinet and shut the doors and lock them. I stayed with it, though, and it paid off. First, the pile of games for the garage sale Saturday:
Yeah, we buy games at garage sales.
Yes, that is three copies of Phase 10 you see there. And TCM Sceneit, Harry Potter Sceneit, the original Sceneit, and another Sceneit just because. And yes, that's a VCR and video cassette rewinder. So glad we're getting rid of those. We still have a DVD player that isn't even hooked up, but I'm not going to push my luck with that. I think the hardest thing for me to part with is the rubber band tommy gun made of pencils that's front and center in the photo. I've held on to it for a loooong time. Irrationally long time. But we all agreed: even though every child needs a rubber band tommy gun and twister and trouble, Holden won't be ready for them for some years yet, and we're not going to store this crap for years on the off chance he'll be interested in a few years. Removing all this stuff made the cabinet so much more accessible for the games we do play (and we play a number of games).
Yep, that's Axis and Allies - the original game with an
expansion pack - and Risk (also original).
You can see our projector on the top shelf. I sold my television to my parents for a hundred bucks in 1994 (I needed party money), and I've never looked back. Five or so years ago, we acknowledged that it would be nice to be able to watch movies at the house, so we bought the projector. The clear, relatively empty space below it is where we put the laptops for playing Netflix or DVDs, and it also houses the Wii. It's the perfect set up for our family. The Netflix account means that Burgundy and Mark watch more TV than I would like, but it still amounts to only 3-4 hours a week. And they enjoy it, so I just make sure to go to bed early. Besides, very soon, Holden and I can start watching Veggie Tales. Yay Netflix!

Last night Burgundy's band put on its Spring Concert. As always, they did a great job. Mark took video of it on his Flip camera (Christmas present), and I took a short video of four-month-old Holden staring enthralled at the stage, totally in awe of the music. Burgundy loaned her friend V a pair of my shoes, and they took Holden's picture in them. Personally, I think a boy with a big sister has more to fear than a girl with big brothers. I hope I can get the video downloaded and trimmed to their final piece, which was from Pirates of the Caribbean. Their director wore PotC Mickey Mouse ears complete with a pirate sash and an earring.

That's all for now! I'm tired from yesterday's work, but today's still must be done.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 18: To Do

Things I obviously don't want to do:

  • Call Samsung about phone repair
  • Put notes about Samsung call in Evernote
Yesterday's Leftover Tasks:
  • Laundry: diapers - fold - put away
  • Strike zone: Clean the front door
  • Call Dr. Moran re: Clear Brook transfer Called yesterday - off campus. Called 9:50 AM today; he will have to call me back per Pam, his secretary.
  • Repair the crib
  • List bread machine on craigslist
  • 10 minutes on finances
  • Put away tools in garage
Today's Tasks
  • Morning Routine: Make bed; potty pass; breakfast; dishes; process mail
  • Laundry: diapers - wash - dry - fold - put away
  • Laundry: towels - wash - dry - fold - put away
  • Call Comcast (CRITICAL)
  • List garage sale on Craigslist
  • Process one box in garage for garage sale
  • 5 minutes on desk (sorting)
  • 5 minutes on desk (actually doing tasks)
  • Write a real blog post
Parking Lot:
  • Get curtain rod from Lowes/Home Depot/Wherever
  • Hang curtains in the craft room

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 17: To-Do

Okay, so I don't want this to get in the way of posting regular stuff, you know, about my family and all, so I'll go ahead and post tomorrow's to-do list separately.
This is where I'll concentrate my time in the living room;
it should actually complete the work! Yay!

Leftover Tasks from Yesterday

  • Fold and put away blue jeans
  • Call Samsung about phone repair
  • Put notes about Samsung call in Evernote
  • Dry towels (YES! I did an extra load!)
  • Fold and put away towels

Today's Tasks:
  • Morning Routine: Make bed; potty pass; make breakfast; put away dishes; clean up from breakfast; load of laundry; 2 minutes on the crap-magnet; process the mail
  • Laundry: white clothes - wash - dry - fold - put away (supposed to have been Burgundy's colored laundry, but she didn't sort it.)
  • Laundry: diapers - wash - dry - fold - put away
  • Strike zone: Clean the front door
  • 10 minutes in the living room (oh my God, it will be done!)
  • Call Dr. Moran re: Clear Brook transfer
  • Pick up Grandma Margie to help with Holden
  • Errands: Lowe's or Home Depot - Curtain rod for craft room; hardware to fix the crib Did not get the curtain rod. I'm not going to get the curtains hung today anyway, and it's an extra cost. I'm waiting.
  • Hem Burgundy's dress for band performance
  • Repair the crib
  • Hang curtains in the craft room
  • Clean out game cabinet
  • List bread machine on craigslist
  • 5 minutes on desk (sorting)
  • 5 minutes on desk (actually doing tasks)
  • 10 minutes on finances
  • Put away tools in garage
  • Process one box in garage for garage sale

Monday is Half-Hour Housework Day!

But I haven't started yet. I feel like I always will be behind, and even though I know the best way to defeat that feeling is to just do something - anything - I have trouble making myself follow through. I've had a productive day, though. Before leaving the house this morning, I folded and put away a load of diapers and a load of towels. I put another load of diapers in the machine to pre-rinse, and early this morning, I had already done a load of dishes and made breakfast.

Around mid-morning, I went to have bloodwork drawn to see if I'm anemic. It would explain a lot of the symptoms I've had lately. I can't seem to recover from a low-grade cough and sore throat (could be allergies). I'm exhausted all the time. My period was over a week late (so glad I wasn't pregnant). And so on. If I were a better housewife, I would have bought a liver at the farmer's market on Saturday and prepared it for myself and my husband. In some fancy french way. Alas, I'm not, so I didn't.

I don't know why I'm so put off by the idea of preparing and eating organ meats. Let's think about it from an emotionless standpoint. Why am I willing to eat a cow's buttcheek or shoulder, a pig's cured belly, or a chicken's chest muscles, but I'm not willing to eat a piece of liver? Or heart? These are supposed to be some of the healthiest meats I could eat, especially while breastfeeding. Why so hesitant? Cow's ass vs. cow's liver: Why is the liver the unappetizing option?

Photo courtesy of
And before you say it tastes funny, I have the power of Julia Child in my kitchen. I have faith that her many menus for preparing liver will provide me with a delicious option. In fact, I know for certain I am inhibited by squeamishness, not flavor: Last month, my lovely sister-in-law insisted that I try barbacoa (basically a cooked cow's head). I did so under duress, making clear that I did not want to. And once I did, I had to admit that I could not tell the difference between it and other shredded, marinated cow meats in a tortilla. It tasted great. And one still can not pay me to buy barbacoa on my own, much less to consider cooking it. Sorry. Still too squeamish. So yeah, I should buy and cook a liver. It's still a long way from cow head, but not too far away from cow butt.

So yeah, I had my blood drawn, then I ate breakfast and returned a book. I came home again and put the diapers on a wash cycle after laying Holden down to sleep. I still need to make my bed, wipe down the toilets, spend 2 minutes on a crap magnet, and do my weekly bit of half-assed housework. It's half-assed because the point is not to be thorough. The point to the floors vacuumed, bathrooms scrubbed, and kitchen floor cleaned in one half-hour sweep. Efficiency of completeness.

After that, I want to spend 10 minutes throwing away trash in the living room and 10 minutes putting away clutter in the same room. And then I'm going to use that room as a staging area for the garage sale I plan to have this weekend. Finally, my goal is to put up one craigslist ad per day for stuff in our home that we're not using. Each add takes me about 20 minutes including taking and uploading photos, so one a day is kinda ambitious. So yeah, today's checklist:

  • Get bloodwork done
  • Return book to Borders
  • Fold diapers (yesterday's load)
  • Fold towels (yesterday's load)
  • Wash diapers 
  • Dry diapers 
  • Wash blue jeans
  • Fold and put away diapers
  • Dry blue jeans
  • Fold and put away blue jeans
  • Call dentist about refund
  • Put notes about dentist call in Evernote
  • Call Samsung about phone repair
  • Put notes about Samsung call in Evernote
  • Check for Burgundy's Science National Honor Society paperwork
  • Deliver Science NHS paperwork to school if necessary  Not necessary, as it turns out. Due next Friday.
  • Morning Routine: Make bed, potty pass, 2 minutes crap-magnet, sort mail, 1 load laundry, 1 load dishes
  • Housework Half hour
  • 10 minutes pick-up
  • 10 minutes trash toss
I'm so pleased with how well my work paid off
in the living room today!
I'll update as I get stuff done, I guess. Tomorrow, my MIL will come over to watch the baby, so I need to plan this evening what I want to accomplish with her here. I slept last week. Don't want to "waste" that time again by resting. Jeez, what am I, a new mom?

Update at 1:45 PM: I finished the half-hour of housework with 2 minutes to spare just as the baby started to cry. I cussed all the way through it, but it's done, and that's a first since Holden's birth. Now I just have to repeat that every week.

Update at 6:51 PM: Holy cow! I've done everything on my list except folding jeans and calling Samsung, and I even made dinner! I'm sore all over, though. My back is killing me! I hate PMS.

Friday, May 13, 2011

This One's for the Children

First, I haven't spoken of my beloved firstborn in far too long. Burgundy continues to amaze and impress at every turn. This year's science fair project compared bacterial growth on pasteurized milk, to see how fat content affected bacterial growth. She won fourth place at her high school science fair and progressed to the district fair, where she took second. In early April, she went to the Houston-wide science fair for the second year in a row.

She attended the Military Ball again this year with Ben, whom she'd been dating for about a year when they went. They're on hiatus right now, which probably is best. Both of them were mildly interested in other kids, so they took a break.

She was inducted into the National Honor Society two weeks ago, and she received an invitation to the Science National Honor Society. Here she's posing with her Honoree, her 7th grade English teacher, Ms. B.

Just two days ago, Burgundy ordered her letterman jacket for her high school. She already has three letters: two for science fair and one for band. I still giggle inside every time I consider the fact that she lettered for science fair as a freshman. We could not afford to go all out on the package; even though the school pays for the jacket itself, we have to pay for all the patches and to have them sewn on. We paid for one letter, her graduation year, having her last name embroidered on the front, a huge (4" tall) script patch of her first name on the back, and a nickname embroidered into the first-name patch on back.

Burgundy's the first family finance decision consisted of ordering the letter jacket. We explained that the jacket would come out of family money. We could pay or the full package ($199), a partial package ($140), or a very basic package ($110). Each option affected the family budget in different ways. If we paid for a full package, there would be other things we wouldn't be able to pay for later. If we split the cost with her, it would make a different kind of impact. We let her look at the family financial situation and the options and then make the decision herself. She went with the partial package, and we are paying for all of it. I will have to sew the additional letters onto the jacket, but I think that's okay. I'm willing.

And speaking of Burgundy's intelligence with money, she finished saving and paying for her trip to Orlando, Universal Studios, and Disney World, then saved an additional $250 in spending money. She went in early April, and she had such a great time. She bought a wand at Ollivander's in Harry Potter World, and when I asked her if it was made of real wood, she said, "Pff. No. I paid thirty-eight dollars for a plastic stick." She cracks. me. up.

Holden is four months old. Maybe four and a half. He's made so many changes; it seems he does something new every few days. He laughed, really laughed, for the first time on April 30. He smiles quite often, and just in the last three or four days, he's begun giving kisses. Last night, he grabbed his toes for the first time while I changed his diaper. He loves naked time now, and his favorite game is pat-a-cake.

I think he is not much of an adventurer. He enjoys swinging backward in my arms, but he does not enjoy being upside down, sudden movements, or big surprises. Burgundy loved all those things, but Holden's eyes widen, and he actually grimaces. His lower lip pulls away from his mouth like a [ set on its back, and he flares his nostrils.

We just finished a six-week Kindermusic class, which he seemed to enjoy. He began to smile when we play peek-a-boo while at Kindermusic two weeks ago, and I could swear that I caught him holding up a hand as if to wave last week.

Just this week, he found his tongue, and he has been sticking it out with his mouth wide open, as if to relish the experience of air moving over his tongue. He has a very expressive face, and his most familiar face is "anxious." I fear he inherited Daddy's anxiety levels. We'll have to do what it takes to ensure he feels secure in his home as he grows.

He started teething in earnest last week, and now experiences most of his teething pain in the evening. We still can't see any teeth beneath the gums, but when we pull out the Orajel tube, he goes from crying to cooing immediately.

It won't rain here for any significant period. Yesterday there were thunderstorm warnings all over the place. It was a light spring rain and lasted less than an hour. I feel like a dried-out husk.

I have made my bed today, and I've run numerous errands. I met with the principal at Burgundy's school,  returned a book, went to half-price books and Lowe's. I picked up my MIL for her help with Holden, dried a load of diapers and washed a load of colors. I made my bed and sorted the mail. I still need to do the potty pass and two minutes on the crap-magnet. And I'm sick, so I really just want to go to bed.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Living the Dream

So it turns out that being a stay-at-home mom really is a dream-come-true. I have to admit, I was afraid that I would be home for a couple of months, then realize I was bored stiff and hated it. That has not happened; anything but.

Here's an ironic thing: I never thought I would derive a sense of personal satisfaction and fulfillment from having clean toilets. I never dreamed that it would hurt me is my husband didn't notice said clean toilets.

Back when I started this blog, I wrote about my housework routines. Well, I'm back at them. During the pregnancy, I was so sick that I could barely function, much less keep up the house. I was surprised and pleased at how easy it was to get back into the swing of things once Holden was born and I didn't feel terrible all the time. Previously, I made sure to make my bed, wipe down the toilet, open and sort the mail, wash, dry, fold and put away one load of laundry, and wash, dry fold, and put away one load of dishes. I've been doing most of these things most days, and I added washing a load of diapers every day.

So far today, I've

  • Made the bed
  • Washed dishes and emptied the dishwasher
  • Folded and put away diapers, started another load of diapers, and washed and dried a load of dark clothes
  • Wiped down the toilets in both bathrooms
  • Checked and updated the grocery list, planning for tonight's dinner.

With a wee baby, it takes me the better part of the day to accomplish these few things, but it's getting better and better. I'm starting to add other routines, weekly things and projects. So today, I'm going to spend 20 minutes decluttering my living room; it's still full of tools, etc, from JB's last visit. He insulated the attic over our bedroom, by the way. Thank goodness!

Right now though, it's time to change a cranky baby's diaper, make my lunch, take us grocery shopping, and go to our Kindermusic class.

Oh my goodness. Poor little guy. I almost feel bad about waking him up to take him out of the bouncer.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Update from San Antonio

Burgundy, Holden and I are in San Antonio, visiting the most awesome sister-in-law and brother in the universe. We drove over here Wednesday evening, and we're leaving Sunday.

Burgundy spent the first part of spring break at our church doing UM Army. This was her first time to participate in an actual UM Army event; last year, she attended "boot camp" in the summer, which is intended to prepare youth who are too young to participate at the full event. UM ARMY stands for United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth. Young people from churches all gather at one church, organize into teams, and go out into the community to perform work for people who need it. This week, Burgundy's team tore out and replaced the subfloor and floor in a wheelchair-bound man's bathroom and repaired the floor in his kitchen. They also patched his siding, leveled his stove, and hauled off a broken refrigerator. Other groups, painted, built wheelchair ramps, repaired rooves, and served people in our community in many other ways.

Holden will be 12 weeks old in just four more days. At last measure (9 days ago), he was 14 pounds, 12 ounces. He currently wears size 3-6 months clothes. In short, my son is huge. He tries to talk to us now, cooing and gurgling and occasionally squealing. He smiles often and beautifully now, and when he does, it lights up my world.

Today, he started trying to use his abdominal muscles to pull himself into a sitting position from a semi-reclining one. When he was 3 weeks, 2 days old, he lunged at me from Mark's lap. The last month has seen copious drooling, and he spits up at least once now after every meal. He still doesn't care for car seats or long car rides, but 3 days ago I bathed him, and he appeared to enjoy it. He even smiled at me a few times.

Everyone tells me that he looks like me. I think he must, because the only features that I can really identify as Mark's are his eyes. They are large and rich and beautiful; however, he even inherited my slight slant to his eyes. He hair remains mostly blond, but sometimes in the sunlight I think I see a glint of red. I want a "ginger" so desparately. But I'll love him even if he's blond.

Burgundy competed in science fair again this year with wondrous results. She placed 4th in her school for health and medicine, and she placed 2nd in the district; she'll go to the Houston-wide science fair in April now.

She made a 190 on her PSAT this year, which as a Sophomore qualified her for an invitation to an exclusive and very effective prep course for the exam. The PSAT/National Merit Scholar classification is the pivot point for a number of scholarships.

Right now, I still have a chance of sleeping tonight, so I'm signing off.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I could be less consistent.

Holden is 5 weeks and 3 days old. Yesterday he wanted to eat every 2 - 2.5 hours all day. I obliged, hoping he'd sleep through the night. He did not. He wanted to nurse all night, too. Today he does not want to eat every two hours, so I'm presently attached to the Booby Sucking Machine of Doom, which thankfully has a hands-free option, and I'm watching Holden do what I so desparately desire for myself: Sleep.

In the last couple of weeks, he has started to coo and gurgle without it being a presage of imminent screaming fits. I love cooing back at him, making faces at him and watching him try to process them, watching the little faces that he makes when he's pooping, peeing, or excited about the cool breeze on his nether bits while being changed.

He's just woken from a sleep previously so deep and gratifying that not even milk expressed into his mouth could induce him to wake and nurse. Now that I'm typing, my boobs are attached to the machine, and Burgundy is in the shower, he's awake and has just begun to scream.

Ha! What a little curmudgeon! He's out to get me. I turned the computer to get a shot of him wailing with my webcam, and he went back to sleep. His habit of thwarting me does not bode well for the future.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Three Weeks Postpartum

I suspect I'm moving too fast. There's so much to do, and I'm so exhausted, and I'm afraid that if I let anything go, all of it will go to Hell in a handbasket. Just today, I:

  • Made the bed (HUGE accomplishment given how dearly I wanted to crawl back into it)
  • Sorted through all the clothes in the dresser and made a huge pile for Goodwill and a much smaller pile of cotton tee-shirts to be turned into diapers
  • Folded and put away a load of laundry
  • Took Burgundy's UM Army registration form and fee to the church
  • Went to the midwife's clinic to pick up my copy of the video of Holden's birth (absolutely not! I will not post that)
  • Went to a local yarn store to show off Holden, visited with dear Jordan and Clarice, and ate some damn fine chocolate
  • Attended chemistry tutorials with Burgundy
  • Heated leftovers for dinner
  • Ordered photo prints for Burgundy's science fair project
  • Cleaned up dishes from dinner
  • Washed, dried, folded and put away a load of diapers
  • Washed and currently drying a load of jeans
  • Washing a load of tablecloths, napkins and other random crap
  • Made a giant batch of granola (oh granola! How I have missed you!)
Let us not overlook the fact that the Parasite still wants to eat every 2-3 hours.

Tomorrow, I need to get a hands-free pumping bra so I can pump my excess milk and knit. Not that Holden leaves any milk for pumping. No, he guards his treasured horde of boob juice with a burning, jealous rage. If I try to pump one side while he nurses the other, he squinches up his face so his eyes fold away into the crease across his nose, and he alternates between the squinch-face and a death-glare at the Medela, which continues its swisch-gulp, swisch-gulp, swisch-gulp rhythmic sucking, oblivious to the danger it courts from a fat little three-week-old booby tyrant. And you can see that he's starving, right? I mean, clearly there's not enough milk to feed both man and machine. He's only gaining about a pound a week, after all.

And with that short but tantalizing insight into our fascinating life and times, Holden would have me sign off because he is starving y'all. Wasting away into nothing, while the Milk Lady just sits there and types as though nothing is wrong. It has been two and a half hours, and he is faint with hunger!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And the Stats . . .

Holden was born at 8:38 PM on December 28, 2010, a Tuesday. He weighed 9 pounds, 2 ounces, and his head was 14.5". He was 22" long.

In spite of my absolute conviction that I would tear apart as I pushed him out, I had only one very minor tear, requiring 3 stitches. That was less tearing than with my 7 pound, 4 ounce daughter.

Labor lasted, from first notice of clock and contraction to Holden's birth, 12 hours and 8 minutes. This was 22 minutes shorter than my first labor.

Perhaps because of the difficulties I had in the labor, the intense pain, and the cord around Holden's neck, I am more firmly convinced than ever that our home was the very safest place for us to be during this labor. Hospital protocols would have cut his cord earlier, but its delivery of life support while we brought Holden around to breathing on his own was crucial. Well-meaning hospital staff would have intervened much earlier when I made my first tentative pushes. If I had made it to the screaming, out-of-my-head point, I surely would have been sedated and sectioned. I'm pretty sure my neighbors could hear me screaming. Finally, Holden stayed with me from the very first moment of his life. He never had to scream alone in a sterile nursery under observation to prove to strangers that he was alive enough to be with his family.

Ultimately, I'm very happy with the labor and its outcome. While I never want to endure that level of pain again, I know that a good bit of it was brought about by my ambivalence over having another child at this point and after so much trouble in our marriage. I know that I was blessed with caregivers who could allow me to suffer, as difficult as that was, until I had resolved myself.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Had A Lot To Think About

To give fair warning, the birth was not easy and was not what I expected. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but this story is not sprinkled falsely with fairy farts and hippy flowers and the Untold Joys of Squooshing a Butterball Turkey Baby out of My Nether Bits. That's Burgundy's birth story, which I've yet to write in 15 stinking years. Not traumatic enough, I guess.

Ultimately, I decided on a plan of increasing aggression against the wee parasite. I would wake Tuesday morning, go for an ultrasound and run a couple of errands. Then we would have Christmas lunch with Mark's parents, keeping it to a reasonably short visit. When we came home, I planned to take black and blue cohosh tincture and have Mark massage my uterus with castor oil. I really didn't want to drink that stuff.

My Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year assured me that these steps all were efficacious in starting labor assuming the baby was ready. The same book recommended ingesting the castor oil only after taking these steps; I happily complied. I decided that if labor did not begin Tuesday night, then Wednesday morning would find me in the kitchen, gagging down castor oil.

I went to bed Monday night with the plan fixed in my mind, relieved finally to have resolved on a course of action.

Tuesday morning I woke at 8:30 and went to the bathroom. When I wiped, I came away with traces of my mucous plug, and when I stood, I had a contraction. I lay back down and snuggled against Mark, telling him what had happened. Five minutes later, I had another contraction. Mark and I decided to go ahead with our errands for the day, and after several more contractions came in rhythm, I texted Jackie, our midwife, to tell her what was happening. We cancelled the ultrasound.

I have no idea why I thought it was so important, but over the course of the morning, I insisted that we go shopping. We went to Michael's for green beads, and when we couldn't find the right shade of green there, we went to Hobby Lobby. I suppose I thought that I might knit so much after the baby came that I would run out of the beads. We went to a local yarn store for a purse to give Mark's mom for Christmas, and we went to Kroger for carrots and broccoli, because I knew I could not live without them while laboring. I continued to have contractions throughout the shopping, terrifying the store clients, thrilling the store staff and doubtless puzzling my poor family beyond repair.

We made it home sometime between 12:30 and 1PM. Mark began setting up the birth pool in the living room, and I sat in the swing in the front yard to call Jackie. I told her the status and said that the contractions were getting intense enough that I couldn't laugh or talk through them. She said she would be on her way after making a couple of stops.

Meanwhile, Mark discovered the vagaries of indoor birth pools and their total lack of instruction on assembly. Once he finally got it assembled (amid my protests of, "I WANT TO BE IN THE WATER NOW. MAKE IT WORK."), he ran the water hose from the hot water heater relief valve to the pool and began filling it up. With cold water. We never have figured that one out. How do you get cold water out of a hot water heater?

While we worked this conundrum, the midwife's assistant, Camellia, arrived with instant calm. She chatted with me between contractions, encouraged me through the hard ones, and swapped stories with me about mutual friends; turns out, she'd heard Burgundy's birth story from Tracey years ago; she was thrilled to make the connection. It was pretty clear I wasn't having the baby anytime soon, so at Camellia's suggestion, Mark ran to Home Depot while I sat in the pool of tepid water, having Burgundy pour pitchers of hot water all around me during contractions.

After a couple of contractions, I discovered that looking right at someone and holding eye contact throughout a contraction really helped me to get through it. When Mark returned, I gave Burgundy the job of sitting across from me through every contraction and looking into my eyes.

Burgundy brought her own phenomenal energy to the birth. She stayed remarkably calm and collected throughout. As she sat across from me through each contraction, every time I began saying, "Nooo, nooo, nooo, nooo, no," or shaking my head, Burgundy would very firmly nod her head yes while pursing her lips to remind me how to breathe.

With the pool filled up with hot water and Jackie present, labor continued to do its job. I remember needing to pee so, so badly, but I simply could not do it. At one point I sat on the toilet in the bathroom, looked at Jackie, and said, "I don't want to do this. I don't want to! I already have a kid; I've done this already, and I don't want to do it again!" I don't know what she thought, but she just smiled and said, "Well, it's coming, and you can't stop it now." Camellia chose that moment to compliment my well-shaped, nursing-ready nipples. I have no idea why that helped, but there you have it. Existential crisis? Grab it by the boobs.

I labored in the pool; I labored in the bed. I knelt, squatted, sat, stood, floated and leaned through the contractions. At one point, Mark had to hold my leg in the air, pushing back against my foot while I used him for leverage. Eventually, Jackie asked if she could check me, and she discovered that I had a little cervical lip. She tried pushing it back, and I hollered like an angry cat on Halloween. She gave me a choice. I could let her try pushing it back during a contraction, or I could try breathing through a few contractions to let it move back on its own. I chose the latter.

I had called Tracey at some point while laboring in the bedroom, and she remained on the phone, praying and breathing with me through the contractions. About every third contraction, I would become completely overwhelmed and simply scream. Those contractions frightened me; I'd had nothing like them when in labor with Burgundy. Eventually even Tracey's prayers over the phone were too much of a distraction, so we hung up.

After several contractions, Jackie checked me again, but I still had the lip. She and Camellia agreed that breaking my bag of waters would hasten the birth. I asked Jackie if I would be angry with her tomorrow. She paused, then said, "I don't think so." I told her to break it. I had gone from, "I don't want this," to "Get it out; I don't care what it takes."

She said she had to go to the car for her amniohook, and I told her I had a wide range of crochet hooks in all colors and sizes in the next room. She declined to use them. I moaned, panted, and chanted through another contraction, and Jackie returned with the hook, breaking my bag of waters just as the next contraction began.

Reclining into Mark's arms, I relaxed a little as I felt the warm rush of water between my legs, and then a steamroller flattened my last hopes for a dignified birth as a contraction like none I had ever felt before took over my entire body. Instinctively, I curled myself forward and felt myself strangling on a scream of horror as I lost control of myself. I could not will myself to breathe, much less to relax, open, or allow my child to be born gently into an open flower or whatever other hippy nonsense I thought would happen. I found myself on my hands and knees, writhing in agony, screaming into poor Jackie's face. Through it all, I had to pee so badly that I could feel myself NOT-PEEING through the pain of the contraction.

This contraction started with a feeling like something had grabbed my uterus and was trying to wad it like aluminum foil into the smallest possible ball. It spread out from there around my back in bands, making me want to buck against it even though the very action made the crumpling feelings in my uterus even worse. Lightning pains shot down both legs, and my chest felt compressed as though Mark and Burgundy together sat on it.

As it passed, I turned to face Mark. Yes, the poor man watched that contraction from behind. He might never again desire my intimacy. Before I could catch my breath and recover, the next one hit. I felt like a cat being stretched by its limbs and tail; I felt I could come apart at any moment. I briefly saw a visual of the dead wife in The Last King of Scotland, feeling I could easily end up torn limb from limb and sewn back together askance as a warning to all women. I never caught my breath; I remember seeing Mark's face crawling in pain as I grabbed a handful of his stomach flesh in each hand to anchor myself against the screams I couldn't stop.

The contraction passed, and I felt ashamed of the screams. I wanted to take them back, apologize, pull myself together and behave like the grown-ass woman I was. I had birthed Burgundy with dignity and not much trouble as a naïve, broke, and idealistic 20-year-old. Surely as an adult I could do the same? I hardly registered the thought before the next contraction ripped another scream from my throat.

Mark's face kept its rigid, wide-eyed, flared-nostril expression through however many more contractions passed. I mauled his flesh, screamed in his face like a braying donkey. I said I couldn't do it; I didn't want to do it.

Jackie said "He's coming; he's close now," and I asked how long. "Maybe 10 more minutes."

I did the math on the contraction spacing and said, "Okay, so that's four more contractions? I can do this four more times."

After that, I managed to get behind the contractions. I pushed with the next few and each time felt myself blacking out. I told Mark not to let me drown. Jackie told me not to push so hard, and I told her that I didn't have a choice. Then another extreme contraction hit, and through my screams, I told them I thought I would rip open. I could feel myself holding the baby inside of me, clenching my whole bottom shut, trying to protect myself from pain, from the baby, from motherhood itself. The contraction eased, and somehow we managed to get one of my legs up so that my right knee and left foot supported me, and my left knee pointed out and away from my body. Jackie used the Doppler to check the baby's heartrate again; it remained in the 150's.

Another contraction, another push, and between screams I begged Mark not to let me drown. Then through the haze, I heard Jackie's voice: "Melissa, listen to me. You need to do exactly what I tell you to do." I felt argument building inside me; wasn't I already doing everything I could? But I had nothing left to give it a voice. Without a pause, I heard Jackie say, "This is a matter of life and death. You have to get this baby out now."*

I don't know what I said or if I said anything. At that point, I decided that if I had to be ripped open, I would survive it. I remember thinking that I would have to tear him out of myself because I couldn't relax my bottom enough to let him out. So I curled my husband's flesh into my fists, closed my eyes on his face, and I bore down on the baby's body with all the strength in my own, refusing even to grunt until I felt myself blacking out. I stopped, gulped air, and hearing calls of, "Great job, again, again," I closed everyone out again, bore down again, and moved the little body down, out, and away.

I felt him come free in a rush of limbs. Whatever happened next, I found myself reclining next to Mark, back against the pool, with a blue, limp little boy on my chest, snuggling into my breast, the midwives rubbing his feet, his back, his chest, and encouraging me to do the same. I talked to him and rubbed his glorious little chest. "Oh, you're beautiful!" I said, "I'm so glad you're finally here, baby; stay with us now."

Jackie set her stethoscope on his bulging, fat chest, and she heard his strong, big, heart pounding him into existence, insisting on life, forcing his lungs into a long, lusty scream. He began to wail, and I noticed huge, bulbous cheeks; thick, fatty eyebrows, and little white flecks of calcium deposits all over a sweet baby face. His head of peach fuzz looked blond, and his lower lip folded far under his upper lip. When he pinched his face to scream, his eyes disappeared into a fold between his brows and cheeks, a fold that extended across his nose.

His heart rate slowed again, and his noises died down, and we discovered his cord was compressed under his leg. Once freed, his heart raced to catch up, and our son yelled with all the rage of a happy man evicted from his warm, cozy home. Happily, we have milk, the warm flesh of family's embrace, and all the love the world can offer to make up for it.

Much later, after we'd left the pool and dried off, snuggled into our bed together, let Burgundy hold and play with him (Mark has video), nursed and bonded, the midwives and Mark all announced their guesses for birth weight. Camellia guessed, "Well north of nine pounds." Jackie guessed he would be, "Just under nine pounds." Mark looked up from his son and said only, "Nine Two."

Jackie set up her hanging scale, laid him in the sling, and weighed him. She grinned at Mark, "Nine pounds, two ounces." Mark grinned back. He was 22 inches long, and his head was 14.5 inches around (as were his chest and abdomen; what a little rock).

We ultimately decided to stick with the name we'd chosen for him, and our son, Holden Elijah, is grunting and squirming in his bouncer next to me as I type. Yesterday marked two weeks of life, and at the birth center for our two-week checkup, he weighed in at ten pounds, five ounces. Currently he's growling and grunting at his wee left fist, which he insists should produce milk. He continues to try to eat it in defiance of evidence to the contrary. A left-handed fantasist. He'll fit in great here.

* I wanted to write this story entirely from my perspective, but for the sake of those wondering what in the world happened, it was this: The cord was wrapped twice around the baby's neck. It was too tight to pull it over his head, which would be the normal procedure, so I believe Jackie planned to clamp and cut it after I finished delivering the head. When I pushed the head the rest of the way out, though, the cord cinched up like a noose, making clamping impossible as well. That was when Jackie told me that I had to get the baby out now. I pushed the baby out in two pushes that were, I think, between contractions. Jackie flipped the baby as he came out and freed him from his cord, which she then left intact to give him support while we helped him start breathing.