Friday, November 30, 2007

The End

Well, today is my last day at home with Mae on maternity leave. But if you're picturing a long and languorous mom-and-baby farewell, a morning of coos and cuddles, with sunlight streaming in our living room window, you've got the wrong idea.

The day started out okay, with a happy baby and a happy boy waking up at about 6:45. I got breakfast for everyone and then Arlo helped me wrestle Presley (our Himalayan cat) into her carrier for a trip to the vet. Ahem, I mean, the salon. She goes in a couple of times a year for a lion cut, when months of not-often-enough grooming have left her coat in tangles.

The trip to the Cat Clinic was fine; Mae fell asleep in the car (oh glory!) and only woke up to squawk a few times as we got Presley checked in for her appointment. She also snoozed through a stop to get cat food and dropping off Arlo at day care--perhaps a whopping 25 minutes, all told.

And then...

Macy and I got home, where I was expecting her nap to continue for at least another hour. Okay, at least another half-hour. But she awoke, squalling, and I did my best to tend to her. I changed her, nursed her again, and cuddled with her until she dozed off in my arms. Five minutes later, she awoke with a start, screaming, and from there things just did not improve.

I know when she gets this way, her eyes rimmed with red, and all my efforts to soothe her in vain, she just needs to sleep. But she's got it in her head that there must be something else missing, that she simply cannot just go to sleep and get it over with. I waffle between the cry-it-out approach and the attachment parenting approach (I know, that's a big sticky waffle), alternately leaving her to cry herself to sleep and breaking down in agony to pick her up and try (usually unsuccessfully) soothing her or nursing her.

I spent 90 minutes this morning in this pattern, until finally I put her in her crib, rubbed her back for 5 minutes, and then put myself in the shower, where I couldn't hear her caterwauling (at least not very well) for 10 minutes. She was still crying when I finished my shower, but her eyes were closed and I was feeling a little more sane.

Finally, I did something I know I'm not supposed to do, but something I know she likes, and I rolled her onto her tummy. A few hiccups, a prolonged snuffle, and she was quiet. Now she sleeps, though God only knows for how long.

This is not the idyllic snugglefest I envisioned for my last day of full-time mommyhood, but them's the breaks. I hate to say it, but I think I'm ready to go back to work.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Favorite New Snack

They scratch the sweet itch, though admittedly not quite as well as a handful of chocolate chip cookies. They're relatively low in fat, not as sugary as you might expect, and each serving contains a whopping (well, whopping for a snack food) 18 grams of whole grains. The trick is actually limiting yourself to their prescribed 15-chip serving. I mean, 15 chips is probably enough, but once I start crunching on these I lose count pretty quickly. But anyway. These will likely be a new staple in the desktop dining pantry.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Great Big Heavy Sigh

It's all too real now that this is my last week of maternity leave. I've started taking baby supplies (diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, etc.) over to Tata's house already, so that I don't have to lug everything over on Monday. And tomorrow I'm going to set my alarm for 6 a.m. to see if I can have all three of us ready for the day by 7:30 a.m...


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Projects Update!

Believe it or not, y'all, I'm still finding time to knit! That is likely to change (save the two hours I set aside every week for my knitting group) when I return to work (GASP!) a week from Monday, but in the meantime I knit on. Here's what's been on my needles of late:I knitted this hat for Erika's birthday... it wasn't finished in time for her actual birthday on the 10th, but I did wrap it up in time for K & C's pre-Thanksgiving turkey dinner on the 17th......followed by the matching scarf, which I just finished up today, but E has not yet laid eyes or hands (or neck) on.

Here's what I just cast on, in the car on the way to Ted's folks' place up in Minnesota. You can see the pattern card in this photo--a sweet little jumper for Mae Clara, in a seafoam-y green. I'm knitting in Shine Sport, that super little cotton-modal blend yarn from Knit Picks. I even had to pull back a few rounds and pick up the stitches (while in the car on the way home from MN yesterday), but managed to do so without major mishaps, and I'm making good progress. Easy pattern, adorable (I expect) results.

This is pretty interesting, too... my sister sent this to me from Denmark. Yes, she sent me a blanket she'd been knitting for Arlo, midway through the project, along with the balls of yarn (still attached, as you can see), and the pattern... in Danish. In a recent phone conversation, she mentioned that she was having trouble finishing it, though I don't recall exactly what the trouble is/was, and I offered to give it a go. I thought it would be neat for Carrie and me to share a project, seeing as how she lives overseas and she just hasn't been able to make it to my weekly knitting group. (Although, to be fair, she did come to the group once a couple of years ago, but the bad news is, she caused a tornado that wreaked major havoc on Iowa City that April. So anyway.) I've never knitted with this many colors at once, but I think I can do it. It's just a simple stockinette stitch, and the puzzle-piece pattern (cute!) is plotted out on a chart that I should be able to follow without knowing Danish. I look forward to working on this next, and may be enlisting the assistance of some of my fellow Knit Wits group members to help decipher the chart and figure out how to handle all those balls.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just like mom

Originally uploaded by knights_writes

Basically, I'm throwing this photo on the blog because I can't bear to have THAT post (see below) hanging out in the top spot on my page anymore. I don't have anything new to say today, and I don't have time anyway, what with getting ready for the trip to MN for Thanksgiving, and the fact that a sleeping baby never stays sleeping as long as you need her to.

Anyway, enjoy this shot of Arlo toting his Cabbage Patch Kid around in the Baby Bjorn carrier. CUTE!

Friday, November 16, 2007

WARNING: Not for those with a quick gag reflex

As I headed downstairs to the computer during Mae's morning nap today, I encountered a pile of cat hork at the foot of the stairs, and gingerly stepped around it. I made a mental note to myself, determining that I'd clean it up after checking my e-mail and reading my blogs.

As any of you with children and/or beloved pets knows, a good parent (of humans or other critters) must pay attention to the frequency, consistency, and changing idiosyncrasies of poop, throw-up, and other icky matter emanating from the creatures for whose care we are responsible. So I also noted that whichever cat made this pile of vomit probably did so because he/she had not chewed his/her food properly. Or at all. There were full-size kibbles atop the more liquid-y portion of the mess--not just the little bites, but the big ones, the kind that we mix in with their regular food for the health of their teeth.

Here's the kicker. When I went back to clean it up, the kibble was gone. Apparently one of the kitties was still hungry after finishing off this morning's breakfast. Ew.

Now if we just had a dog, I'd never have to clean up ANY cat puke.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

COOL (Country of Origin Labeling)

I'm just beginning to scout around online for Christmas presents for Arlo, and I'm wondering if anyone has tips for determining which toys are made in China and which toys are not. With all the recalls and safety concerns lately concerning items manufactured in China, I think it ought to be clearly stated... but that's not necessarily the case. And you know, it's not just about safety concerns--it's also a matter of not wanting to buy in to the Chinese GDP this year, in light of the apparent lack of ethics among Chinese toy manufacturers... not to mention the probable complicity of the American companies who are hiring Chinese factories to make their toys.
Anyway... the toy that prompted my question is pictured here: Playskool's "Honeybee Hop." I looked it up on Amazon (where it's listed on Arlo's wish list), and couldn't find anything in the product info that states where the toy was manufactured, but I guess there's a good chance that it came from China, since it's a mass-produced "American" toy. I know you can usually find the "Made in _________" tag somewhere on any given toy--but is this marked on the exterior packaging as well? My inclination is to just avoid anything made in China this year, but I'm not sure if that's even going to be a simple proposition.
Your thoughts?

TMCF, part II

Originally uploaded by knights_writes

Arlo went to the salon on Tuesday. You can see more pics, including official before-and-after shots (this is "during") on my flickr site.

Thursday Morning Cute Fix

Originally uploaded by knights_writes

'nuff said.

Everybody poops. Even Spidey.

Here's Arlo's Weeble Winnebago. Like all respectable campers for families on the go, it has a toilet.

Peek in through the back window, and what do you see? Why, it's Spiderman, providing a good example of how to use the potty! Rock on, Spidey!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Kent & Michael, in the kitchen
Originally uploaded by knights_writes

We hosted a little get-together at our house Saturday night in honor of Erika's birthday, and also to enjoy the company of Tim & Anita, who moved from Iowa City to Bismarck, ND several years ago. Tim & Anita brought along their two little munchkins, Joe (5), and Sofie (5 mos.), and were joined by five other kiddos in the zero-to-six age group, along with about a dozen of their parents and grown-up friends. Believe it or not, the chaos was kept to a minimum, the kids played happily together, and when everyone left (at a decent hour, no less), the clean-up was minimal. (The extra leaves are still in the dining room table, and there are still extra chairs all over the house, but hey, it coulda been a lot worse.)

You can see photos from the party here:

We were blessed to have a very full house and a really pleasant evening. Thanks to those who came! Whose house is next?

P.S. Did I mention that Macy slept in her swing for nearly the entire party (thereby making everyone at the party believe that I have been waaaaaay exaggerating our troubles with her)?

Fat Chance

Baby Mae is napping on a blanket on the living room floor, and I just had a shower, poured myself a cup of coffee, and painted my nails. Why the nails? Well, I caught sight of a bottle of nail polish on the bedside table, and it seemed like a good idea. A little something nice for me, to make me feel like a girl again, and not just a pair of milk-producing breasts. I thought it'd be nice to pretend, for just a day, that my hands are here for something more than just diaper changing and folding the laundry.

What are the chances that this coat will dry before the baby wakes up, crying for a meal?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanks for the Sprinkle!

Originally uploaded by knights_writes

A great big "thank you" goes out to Kathryn, Mara, and Leah, who planned and executed a splendid mini-shower for Mae this Sunday. We had a lovely time! Go here to see more pictures:


Originally uploaded by knights_writes

When Cindy visited Mae and me a few weeks ago, she said I should post a photo of Arlo's toilet on the blog. You can deduce that we used stickers as a reward for good potty behavior. And since (a) we'd be needing a new toilet seat pretty soon anyway and (b) they only cost, like, $12.99 at K-Mart, we figured it'd be appropriate (and fun for Arlo) to just stick 'em right on the pot.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

First smile!

Originally uploaded by knights_writes

This is a shot from the afternoon play session wherein I got to see Macy's first Bona Fide Smile... meaning, one that could not be dismissed as a "sleep smile" or passed off (ha) as "gas."

Sharing the shot with Mae are Jen K-F, who came over to give me some grown-up social time and to commiserate about having a fussy baby; and G-Raffe, a beloved friend from Arlo's infancy, whom he very generously gave to Mae for her very own. It was G-Raffe (wielded by Mom) who elicited the first smile--this picture was taken a few minutes later as we diligently tried to coax out another one.

Worth Every Second

Originally uploaded by knights_writes

This is not her first smile--that happened a couple of weeks ago (story and pictures to follow)--but it is one of the first real wide-mouth, beaming, giddy smiles we've seen thus far. The photo is not the greatest, but the look on her face is, so I share it with you regardless of technical excellence or lack thereof. I was dangling a toy with my right hand while snapping the shot with my left.


Originally uploaded by knights_writes

I finally got a good shot of Arlo wearing the sock-monkey hat that Mara knitted for his third birthday (which was in September). It's the best hat, EVAR. I guess I'll have to snag the pattern from her if I want one of my own.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A pattern emerging?

Mae had another whine-a-thon yesterday, much like the Sunday I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. She cried, whimpered, and fussed all day--except for when I was walking around the house with her, gently bouncing up and down. Even her nursing sessions were not altogether peaceful, as she'd often break her latch, pull away, grimace, and cry for a few seconds at a time while my milk continued to spray in her face. (Was that too graphic?) Her naps only lasted for 20 minutes at a time, and she absolutely did not appreciate being put down at any point.

Today (as was the case the day after that other horrible day), she has already slept away most of the morning. I keep tiptoeing around, expecting her to wake up cranky... and she sleeps on. (Even typing that, I'm afraid that I am totally jinxing it.)

Tata (Arlo's day care provider, soon to be Mae's also) has asked me to make some notes about Macy's "routine" for when she begins spending her days at Tata's. I'm really not sure how to report this pattern--or even, for sure, if it's a pattern. I guess it's comforting, though... if, indeed, I can come to expect a day of peace after a rough day of constant baby-soothing, I suppose it will make it easier to get through those tough days. Here's hoping that today continues to be the salve for yesterday.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloweenies II

After trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, we drove over to Piers's house for a visit. Arlo was kind enough to share his costume with Piers, who had already shed his for bedtime. In fact, it looks like Arlo gave up every piece except for the pants, and the fire tie-dye shirt, added by moi.

Then they shared a hug. Sweet boys!

We arrived with a screaming baby (Mae did not appreciate the car ride, thank you very much), on whom Sandie apparently cast some sort of crazy sleep spell. Mae fell asleep as soon as we arrived at Joel & Sandie's (around 7:00), and kept right on snoozing until ONE A.M. One a.m., people! That's her longest sleep yet!

Next, Piers helped Arlo back into his full firefighter regalia for the drive home. Happy Haloween, y'all!

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Here's Arlo, dressed up in his firefighter costume, fresh out of the bag from Old Navy. Thank you, Old Navy! You would not believe how many people asked me if I made it. I, of course, said, "Yes, yes I did."

And here he is, with the added special effect of eyeliner (or "smoke," he says) on the cheeks and nose.
Here's Tata (Arlo's day care provider--soon to be Mae's also) goofing around outside with Isabella (a.k.a. Zuzu, or here, the cutest lil' Tootsie Roll EVAR).
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