Wednesday, November 28, 2012

James, briefly

James has finally taken to a solid food he likes - oatmeal, probably because it tastes like thick breastmilk. This doesn't seem like much progress, but at least he's eating something off of a spoon with quite a bit of enthusiasm, and my hope is that a nice solid meal in the evening will help with whatever growth spurt he's going through right now that requires eating every hour all night long. Because if it doesn't, it sure will hurt when I jump out the window after another night like the last two we've had.

He's also started inching forward incrementally, as well as getting up on his hands and knees and rocking. Bad baby! Stop that right now. Your older siblings strew far too many small chokeables in their wake for you to become mobile.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Excuse note

I mentioned a while back that I have some money to spend on books for my library, but I haven't done it yet for some highly bizarre reasons.

You see, the power cord of our Nook broke a while ago, so we called customer service and they said they would mail us a new one since it was still under warranty and we thought that would be that. Easy-peasy.

Then the package with the new Nook arrived. I might have been tempted to keep it, but it was a Nook Simple Touch and ours is a Nook Color, and their power cords aren't compatible. So our much better Nook was still out of power. We called again, and were sent a return mailing label and the promise that the power cord was on its way. And lo and behold, a power cord arrived the very next day.

Then another power cord arrived. Then a Nook battery. And another battery. And another. And then another power cord. In the end, I think we received a total of four power cords and six batteries. At that point, we called Customer Service and said straight out, "I think we need to talk to a manager for this." The highly bemused manager did manage to straighten things out and told us we could return the whole mess to a brick and mortar store. So that's we did two weeks ago, making the day of a couple sales associates. Phrases like, "I need to call Steve over so he can see this too" were said. We all had a jolly old time and finally got everything settled.

But I had been planning on ordering the books for my library from the Barnes and Noble website (to take advantage of the nifty educator discount they give me), and part of clearing up the confusion involved the manager putting a temporary alert on our address. So to make sure that our order 1) actually arrives and 2) doesn't unleash a new flood of extraneous Nook accessories, I decided to hold off on making the order for a while.

Monday, November 26, 2012

There and back again

Oh my, when I lost NaBloPoMo, I did it good and hard, didn't I? I don't have anything resembling a good excuse, even. Mostly that I just kept falling asleep immediately after putting the kids to bed, and general busyness. Then we drove to Boston and back for Thanksgiving.

The drive on the whole wasn't too bad, even Wednesday night. The first part of the New Jersey Turnpike was under construction, cramming six lanes of traffic into three, with predictable results. We spent a significant portion of that period gazing soulfully at the entirely empty section of highway next to us as we poked along at 15 miles an hour, although there were enough areas of dire construction to let us know exactly why the whole section was closed. But after that, it was clear sailing, and very similar for going home on Friday.

Thanksgiving itself was lovely. Good food, family we don't see often enough and a very cute and sweet nephew. I think I may have to declare next year that I'm not able to work the day after Thanksgiving, sorry. As it turns out, they can deal, contrary to what I've thought all of these years of working the day after Thanksgiving.

In other news, poor James has a cold. It's not his first, but definitely the first to make him obviously sick, as opposed to sleeping more than normal and intermittent coughing in his previous two. His nose is running, his cough sounds terrible and as a fun bonus, his eyes are perpetually goopy. His eyelashes are clumping together, despite frequent wiping. Poor gunky baby.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thank you for breastfeeding?

This evening, we went to story time at our local bookstore, which turned out to be a bust because they were having a book fair for a local elementary school, resulting in rampaging hordes of children and interruption of regular programming. While we were waiting for coffee in the cafe, I sat down to feed James before we got on the road. I usually don't bother to use any sort of cover these days, mostly because a combination of James not caring for his head being covered and my forgetfulness in bringing one has meant that I've gotten pretty good at my "reach down my shirt, unhook my bra, lift shirt and pop baby on without flashing all and sundry" technique. I was a bit nervous about it in the beginning, but the sheer frequency that newborns need to be fed means I had to get over it pretty quickly if I ever wanted to leave the house. I've been lucky enough to never have anyone say anything negative or pay much attention to us, which is really how it should be. Babies need to be fed, and it's not my problem if anyone can't handle being reminded that there are breasts under my shirt, especially when they're not actually seeing said breasts. No one should be overwhelmed by the awesome power of my boobies.

So you can imagine how surprised I was when a woman hugged me from behind, thanked me for nursing in public and then handed me a card saying the same thing. It was a card from a breastfeeding advocacy organization, so this woman wasn't so lunatic as to make up her own business cards for to thank breastfeeding women for doing their thing, but really...well, okay. Um. Thanks, I guess?

I mean, I can see value in wanting to counteract the intimidation many women feel about breastfeeding in public because of the negative reactions they can experience. I'm torn between feeling gratified because breastfeeding even the easiest newborn is a hell of a lot of hard work and not wanting to encourage the implication that successful breastfeeding makes me a better mother than a mother for whom it didn't work out, or who didn't try at all. After all, I'm that mother (the one for whom it didn't work out) too.

But mostly, I'm just bemused that I now have a business card complimenting on my baby feeding choices. How... professional?

Friday, November 16, 2012

* So far, James has had approximately 2 ounces of yogurt and 3 ounces of pear as the sum total of solid food in his lifetime. Until today, when Alec found a box of matzoh and was walking around handing us all pieces of it. He's so sweet when it comes to sharing food. And then I noticed James sitting on the floor, gumming a piece of matzoh. He was not at all happy when we took it away from him either.

We usually take the cautious approach to introducing potentially allergenic foods, and in particular delay introduction to nuts. But I get the feeling that unless we decide to simply not have those foods in the house, it will be a freaking miracle to keep those foods away from James with Alec.

* As it turns out, I'm the only person at work who can work the day after Thanksgiving, so my museum is closing that day. And just like that, we suddenly had two days off in a row surrounding a holiday, which means we could actually leave town. So we're going to spend Thanksgiving in Boston with B's sister. Whee! This will be our first family Thanksgiving in 6 years. I'm all agog in anticipation.

* Hopefully, we'll be able to stop by the Public Gardens at least long enough to see the statue of the Make Way for Ducklings ducks for Katherine. Come to think of it, it's been just about exactly a year since we did our first FIAR unit on Make Way. That hardly seems possible, and yet at the same time, the online school seems like a distant, vaguely unpleasant memory. Meanwhile, we have just finished the world's longest unit on dinosaurs and are about to move onto telephones. Life is so much more interesting when we have control over what we study.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Perchacnce to dream

Recently, James has been resisting falling asleep while nursing. He pulls off, clearly full, but is also clearly distraught with tiredness and tosses himself around, whining and shrieking. I usually wrap him up, pop a pacifier in his mouth and hold him until he falls asleep.

But it would take an utter fool not to recognize the flashing neon signs of a baby ready to be put on the path of putting himself to sleep, so tonight when he started doing his tired baby pterodactyl routine, I wrapped him up, popped his pacifier in and put him down in his bouncy seat. And he lay there calmly for a long time, going from looking curiously around the room, to a thousand-yard stare, to drooping eyes, to... completely asleep? Great Caesar's ghost, who is this child? If I hadn't been in the delivery room, I would never believe any baby who sleeps like he does could be a child of mine. As it is, I occasionally wonder if he's a changeling sent by the fairies to confuse me.

My children don't sleep. Katherine could only fall asleep when left completely alone and after fussing for ten minutes, when she would actually deign to sleep. She went through long hideous, mind-rending periods where she would be awake for never less than two hours in the middle of the night. Alec slept wonderfully as long as he was always in contact with another human body, at least until he would cheerfully rise to greet the rosy-fingered dawn at the bracing hour of 5:30. So James, who has regularly been sleeping an astonishing 6-8 hours without waking every night after falling asleep without the slightest fuss, is entirely foreign to our experience with babies. Kind of like discovering an exotic, yet very easy to tend South American orchid in your marigold bed.

Not that I'm complaining. No, no, no, no, not at all. In fact, I'm crossing every appendage I have and knocking on an entire forest to make sure that merely talking about this in public won't cause him to suddenly start waking every 45 minutes all night long, like a proper child of mine.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

At the movies

B had the day off today, so we went to see Wreck-it Ralph. I hadn't thought much about it when I saw the previews, although it looked like a fun concept. Then I started to hear good reviews, and now that I've seen it, I really agree - it was a great, well-thought out movie. It had lots of great touches to appeal to people who played arcade games in the 80s and 90s, but also a really good story and great worldbuilding. Some of the action at the end was a bit much for our sensitive kid, but Alec thought it was great. There was certainly nothing as traumatizing as the end of Toy Story 3, which had me sitting there surrounded by sobbing children thinking, "Are you freaking kidding me, Pixar?" (and yet Wreck-it Ralph was a demure PG, while Toy Story 3 got a totally unjustified G rating. I suspect shenanigans with Disney and the ratings board here).

We saw a preview for The Hobbit. That's one I really hope we can see in the theatre. Unlike LOTR, the Hobbit was a book I loved as a kid, so I'm eager to see it in film.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Baby notes

* Sigh. I'm not deliberating missing days, I just keep being so sleepy by the time of night that I have hands free to type that I can't stay awake long enough to do it. Which is more or less the reason that blogging in general has been so sparse in the past year or so.

* James has sprouted a tooth! Is it one of the two teeth on the bottom that have been pushing about as hard against the gums as they could without actually poking through? Why no, it's the one on top that came through completely silently which I didn't notice until he flung his head backward off of my lap. Sneaky little thing. I think I felt actual tooth on the bottom this morning though, so it's probably two teeth now. James is the latest of our children to get teeth, but he seems to be making up for it in volume.

* James also tried his first solid food tonight - vanilla yogurt. He ate about an ounce without much enthusiasm and a generally dubious expression. He's never been a fan of the flavor of anything except breastmilk. His reaction to Zantac was understandable, and I can't fault his being less than pleased with receiving formula in a bottle when he's used to human milk from the tap, but he also dislikes the highly sugary tylenol and ibuprofen, which the other kids have always enjoyed. I think he may become our picky child. I guess tomorrow we'll try applesauce. I haven't been too eager to get him on solids, but it's occurred to me that a nice solid meal in the evening might make him lose the need for a midnight meal, so I'm going to give it a bit more of a try.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


This has been a remarkably busy evening of doing not a lot. But between grocery shopping, nursing the baby, and attempting to work on some sewing, here I sit, up way too late and not having written anything. And since I need to work tomorrow, this will have to be it for tonight.

Friday, November 9, 2012

James at six months

17 pounds, 5 ounces and 27 inches. Not as huge as his brother and sister at that age, but a respectably sized baby nonetheless.

He smiles his way through life, showing off his delicious round cheeks and double chin. He even managed a smile at the nurse giving him his shots this morning, in the pause when she switched from one fat little thigh to the other. He has a very ticklish neck and never fails to giggle while I'm cleaning out under the folds under his chin. He also thinks his brother and sister are absolutely hysterical.

In physical developments, he is sitting unsupported, grabbing everything in sight and rolling all over the place. He hasn't managed to wiggle his way across the floor yet, but he still manages to work his way around to wind up a couple feet away from where he started. He has two teeth so, so close to pushing through, as well as four lurking close under the surface.

His coos are steadily turning into babbling. He's also discovering the upper ranges of his vocal register, making it a fun guessing game to figure out if he's really distressed or just performing vocal exercises.

I highly recommend having a jolly little fat man like James in your life. He's a happy baby at a very happy age, and we're so very happy to have him.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sweet relief

I haven't said anything about the election here (well, let's face, I having been saying much at all here for a while), because I've been so tense over the outcome I just couldn't do much more than sit and twitch nervously whenever I contemplated a Romney presidency. There's just so much hanging in the balance right now, from the environment to reproductive rights to health care reform to the economy that means we just can't afford a Republican president right now, at least not the sort of Shiite Republicans that seem to be getting elected these days.

So all I can feel right now is deep relief. Obama certainly isn't perfect, but he's good enough for the things that really matter.

Sad panda

Poor Alec was quite a sad panda today. He's been snotty and coughing for a couple days, but seemed perfectly chipper until this morning, when he actually asked me to put him down for a nap. He was clearly exhausted but having trouble staying asleep, so I finally bribed him to stay in bed with the Nook, on which he can watch Netflix and will sometimes get him to lie still long enough for sleep to catch up with him when he's fighting a nap particularly hard.

But then he came downstairs crying that his face hurt. I looked at him and saw how his eyes were red-rimmed and had dark shadows under them and took him to the doctor. And it was a darn good thing we managed to get that last-minute late afternoon appointment, because the doctor took one look in his ears and said it was no wonder he was miserable, since they're both infected. Poor little guy.

I'm trying to decide if three doses of antibiotic is enough for him to be able to go to preschool tomorrow. He perked up quite a bit with some ibuprofen, but was still clearly under the weather this evening. I guess we'll see how he is in the morning. I don't want to send him to school sick, but it's going to be a pain and a half to have to take him when I vote tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2012


For years, Katherine has been asking for pets: fish, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, a dog (her fondest wish), basically anything other than our boring old cats that don't like her. So after she showed she could handle the responsibility by feeding the cats on a regular basis, we started her on the lowest rung of the ladder of pet ownership : goldfish.

Tuesday evening, she came home with two goldfish with the seasonally appropriate names of Pumpkin and Halloween (my suggestion of calling the orange and black Halloween Kalanazoo College was soundly rejected). They swam around their new tank and all seemed well.

The next afternoon, Katherine frantically told me that Pumpkin's tail was caught in the filter. When we turned the filter off, it quickly became clear that he got caught because he was already dead. As he floated to the surface, we saw Halloween floating up there as well. Much distress followed.

We called the pet store to find out what might kill two fish in less than 24 hours, and not getting any satisfactory answers, scooped the bodies out into a tupperware dish to take them back to get replacements. But then the next morning, we looked in the dish to discover Halloween was still swimming around. We felt terribly guilty at the thought of the poor fish swimming around in three inches of water with a dead body all night, but put him back in the tank and went and got a new fish, Googly Eyes.

Then yesterday morning, Katherine came and told me that Halloween was once again dead. I went to check and he was once again floating at the surface. I poked him to get him into a better position to scoop him out and lo and behold, he started swimming again. At this point, all I could figure was that he either tended to list to his side when he slept or he should be renamed Lazarus.

As it turns out, Halloween actually died last night. In retrospect, a healthy fish shouldn't make you constantly wonder if it's alive or not. So far, Googly Eyes seems to remain bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but we feel awful at how disastrously Katherine's first foray into pet ownership has gone through no fault of her own. I knew that goldfish were short-lived, but I think we're all starting to get paranoid every time we pass the tank, wondering if the current fish will live out the week or not.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Falling asleep

It was a long, long day today. James is cranky from teething and slept poorly last night and Alec decided that his room would look better with two inches of clothing carpeting the floor from the tubs of outgrown clothes in his closet. And now I can barely stay awake. Which is all to say that I don't have anything interesting to say tonight, and I'm not sure I could stay awake long enough to type it if I did. So I'm doing the sensible thing and going to bed instead.

Lfie lately

* As I said yesterday, we came through the hurricane just fine. It got very windy, but didn't rain too terribly much. We never lost power, and while we saw a number of large branches and trees down the next day, most of our immediate vicinity was up and functioning. I think the suburbs were affected much more simply because they have more trees; I had not thought of that being an advantage of our blighted urban landscape, but silver linings and all that. All in all, we were very, very lucky, especially compared to New Jersey and NYC.

Really, we live in a very favorable weather area. We get about a foot of snowfall annually, it gets hotter than I would like in the summer, but still almost always below 100 and not terribly humid, we're not in a flood plain, we're not prone to tornadoes and we're tectonically stable. We do get hurricanes, but we have New Jersey absorbing the brunt of most of what comes our way.

* James is six months old. Stop it, relentless march of time! He has taken the longest of any of my children to produce teeth, but to make up for it, I can feel at least six right under his gums. Two on the bottom are very nearly through. Even though he's old enough and seems interested, I've been reluctant to start him on solids since breastfeeding is so easy right now. But if enough of those teeth pop through, I think I will swiftly reconsider my position on solids.

* Thanks to a generous grant from the Mom Foundation, Katherine is now spending two days a week at a local center for homeschoolers. It's called Talking Stick, and every bit as hippy-dippy as you might guess from a name like that. There are organized activities, but much of the day consists of putting children in a big room with lots of educational materials and letting them have at it. I'm not the sort of person who can take that approach in my homeschooling, but it definitely suits Katherine very well, since she can happily occupy herself most of the day with self-designed projects. I'm the sort of wet blanket who insists she learn to read though, so this is an excellent compromise. She can go make a mess for someone else to clean up, spend time with other kids and have people to help facilitate her ideas. When I picked her up last Thursday, she had completed a poster advertising for auditions for the play she had written. She had already played a dolphin in another play that day. Then the other three days a week, I'll do the organized academic stuff with her, which will be easier for not having to butt heads with her two days a week.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaBloPoMo ho

It's that time of year again, isn't it? I have grave doubts about my ability to post every day for a month, but I'm going to take a whack at it anyway.

Halloween went just fine. We came through the hurricane with our power intact and very little neighborhood damage, so we were able to go on as schedule. We ended the evening with a very happy and sugared-up ghost and fairy, as well as a very happy dinosaur: